Kathleen Rynne Saunders, of Wallingford and formerly of Hamden, passed away on Thursday, May 16th, 2019 peacefully at home. Despite the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s ten years ago she maintained the ability to recognize family and friends to the end. Kathleen was born in Cahersherkin, a small town in County Clare about three miles outside the town of Ennistymon. She was the eighth of ten children born to John and Mary Kearney Rynne. In 1949 Kathleen came to the United States and lived with her aunt Elizabeth Kearney MacMahon. She recalled fun times meeting her friends in front of Liggett’s Drug store on the corner of Church and Chapel Streets in New Haven to catch the bus to Savin Rock to ride the bumper cars. She enjoyed the group trips to see the football & hurling games and the dances. Early in 1952, Kathleen along with friends Nancy Clark & Harriet O’Keefe attended an Irish dance at Eagle Hall on Crown Street where she was introduced to her future husband, Fred Saunders by John Smyth who was also there with Peter Neville. From that day on, Kathleen and Fred attended many dances and events at the Irish Club on Alling Street and during this time Kathleen held a Miss Munster title one year through the Hibernians.Two years later Kathleen and Fred were married July 27th, 1954 at the Immaculate Conception Church in Lahinch, County Clare Ireland. Mary McTague and Jim Bohan were the maid of honor and best man. Their six-week honeymoon covered all of Ireland and a boat trip from Belfast to Scotland, where they toured Glasgow, the Highlands, and Edinburgh. From there they took a side trip to London to visit Kathleen’s sister, Liz, and her family prior to settling in Connecticut.Kathleen attended St. Mary’s High School and Hamden High School where she received her Diploma and also obtained certification as a Certified Nursing Assistant. These achievements occurred while her family was growing. Kathleen held numerous positions and was well known as a wonderful caregiver both privately and for Yale University in the infirmary. Kathleen was predeceased by her beloved husband of 63 years, Fred Saunders. She was also predeceased by her sisters Aggie of New Zealand, Liz (Ron) of England, Mary of Cahersherkin, Noni (Seamus) of Ennistymon, and brothers Tomas and Mick (Rose) of Dublin, Sean (Maureen) of Cahersherkin, and Christopher (Angela Joan) who had resided here in Connecticut and by Rita Saunders Hannigan and Lorraine Burke Saunders.
Kathleen is survived by her brother Eddie in Dublin and her brother-in-laws Francis Saunders and Thomas Hannigan in Connecticut. Kathleen and Fred instilled a love of their Irish heritage in their seven children: Mary Catherine, Kathleen Ann (Robert Lupone), William Frederick, Sean Patrick (Janice), Eileen Rita, Michael Rynne, Kevin Christopher (Dawn Pearson) and her grandsons, Kyle Patrick and Colin Matthew. Kathleen and Fred were avid golfers and explorers having traveled extensively covering Austria, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland, France, Canada, Hawaii and the British Isles. They also enjoyed seeing the United States and Canada in their motor home. Kathleen had a special love for Irish music, dance and tales. While raising her family in Hamden, Kathleen was an active member of the Saint Rita’s Ladies Guild and always supported local activities to support the community. Kathleen had always been a proud supporter of the New Haven Gaelic Football & Hurling Club and the Irish American Community Center from the time the club was formed. She was part of the fashion show committees and she had been a faithful volunteer at every CT Irish Feis, filling in wherever needed with a cheerful smile and happy heart. She worked tirelessly, behind the scenes, on many club functions through the years and could always be depended on for some good Irish bread. Kathleen received their prestigious Woman of the Year award in 2008.
The visiting hours will be Monday from 4 to 8 pm at the North Haven Funeral Home, 36 Washington Avenue. Her funeral procession will leave the funeral home on Tuesday morning at 9:30. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated in the Church of the Resurrection, Wallingford at 10:00. Interment will follow in All Saints Cemetery. In lieu of flowers contributions to the New Haven Gaelic Football & Hurling Club 9 Venice Place, East Haven, CT. 06512.