Kathleen Poole, organizer of first state March for Life, dies at 71

COLUMBIA — Kathleen Walsh Poole, chairman of the Board of the South Carolina Citizens for Life and the organizer of the first March for Life in the state, died Nov. 10 at the age of 71. The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Nov. 13 at St. Joseph Church. Burial was at St. Peter Catholic Cemetery.

Poole was the longest- serving member of the SCCL board and spent the last 30 years of her life devoted to pro-life activities.

She was born Nov. 12, 1932, in Manhattan, N.Y., a daughter of the late Mary Ellen and Edward Joseph Walsh. During her late teens and early 20s she was active in the Legion of Mary and in the Campaigners for Christ, which proclaimed the Gospel and advanced social causes through street preaching at Union Square and elsewhere in lower Manhattan. She received music education at Carnegie Hall in Manhattan, and sang professionally prior to her marriage in 1953 to Charles P. Poole Jr.

Poole and her husband moved to Columbia in 1964. She served as the administrative assistant of the St. Thomas More Newman Center at the University of South Carolina from 1964 to 1976 and for several years during the 1990s, and she organized the first pro-life student group, USC Students for Life, which remains active today. In 1974 seven people marched from USC to the Statehouse to bring to elected officials the message of the intrinsic value of human life and to call for an end to abortion. The March for Life has been an annual event ever since, chaired by Poole until recently, and it now attracts thousands of pro-life marchers each year.

Poole also established the pro-life booth at the State Fair in 1974, reaching many thousands of people each year with right-to-life educational material. Most recently the South Carolina Citizens for Life Board of Directors honored Poole as “Defender of Life” in a resolution expressing appreciation for her exemplary life and her witness to the pro-life movement.

In addition to her husband, Deacon Charles Poole, she is survived by her five children: Kathleen Poole, Charles P. Poole III, Michael Poole, Mary Ellen Jackson, and Elizabeth Loeffler; a brother, Kevin Walsh; and 15 grandchildren.

Memorials may be made to the South Carolina Citizens for Life, 1411 Barnwell St., Suite 3, Columbia, SC 29201.