Overcoming loss and tragic circumstances, Kate St. Clair dedicated her life to education and the elderly.
She taught school in Elko, served as state deputy superintendent, and worked to advance services for senior citizens — forming what would become the Elko Senior Citizens Center.
Mary Kate Reed was born in Springdale, Arkansas, Jan. 14, 1891, as one of seven children.
She developed her love of learning in a crowded one-room schoolhouse and attended the University of Arkansas.
After completing the first year of her two-year degree, she traveled west in 1911 to visit her brother and uncle in Elko.
Kate liked Elko and accepted a teaching job near Lamoille.
“I found I really enjoyed teaching,” she recalled.
After the school year ended, she finished her degree in Arkansas. In 1914, Kate moved to North Starr Valley to teach school and met Arthur St. Clair.
They married in 1914 and had two sons, Reed and Jim. The family settled in Deeth where Arthur worked as constable and postmaster.
Tragically, 2-year-old Jim died in a drowning accident, followed by Arthur’s death in 1920 when he was killed on duty.
Five months later, Kate gave birth to Arthur Lee. With her family’s help, Kate moved back to Arkansas and earned her bachelor’s degree.
Returning to Elko in 1927, Kate St. Clair taught both elementary and high school classes.
In 1944, she was appointed as a State Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction supervising 45 schools throughout Elko and Eureka counties, a position she served in for 15 years. She drove to each school in her jurisdiction, 42 of them rural. Kate retired in 1959.
By 1962, both Reed and Arthur Lee had died. Kate turned her attention to serving the senior citizens and initiated the AARP program in Elko, becoming the organization’s first local president. Using Elko Grammar School No. 1 for meetings and activities, the group eventually developed into the Elko Senior Citizens Center.
A member of Gov. Mike O’Callaghan’s Council for the Aged, St. Clair was appointed to a delegation that participated in a conference at the White House in 1971.
On a vacation in Montana, Kate died of a stroke, Sept. 19, 1973 at the age of 82. She was remembered by friends for her cheerfulness, “zest for life” and dedication to helping others.
The school board voted to rename Grammar No. 1, then at Eighth and Court Streets, Kate St. Clair School in her honor.