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Celebrating the life of

Katherine (Kay) M. Scardino

February 11, 1921 - September 05, 2021

Katherine (Kay) M. Scardino

Katherine (Kay) Mangelsdorf Scardino

Kay Scardino, ardent participant in Savannah’s social, civic, literary, and artistic life for 65 years, died at home on September 5, 2021. She was 100. The cause of death was complications related to old age.

Her insatiable curiosity led her to read philosophy, theology, horticulture, art, architecture, science, history, biography, fiction, poetry, and news. Her enthusiasm for building a better city for all Savannahians fueled successful fund drives for the local library system, the Savannah Symphony Orchestra, and Memorial Medical Center.

Born Mary Katherine Mangelsdorf in 1921, she grew up the eldest of four in Webster Groves, Missouri. Her father, Albert Henry Mangelsdorf, and her mother, Hazel Kelly Mangelsdorf, were married in St. Louis in the early years of the 20th century after moving there from Kansas.   

Albert’s family had operated agricultural and floral seed businesses in Atchison.  His father, Kay’s grandfather, had been a soldier in the Union Army, serving as a drummer boy in the Civil War. 

In St. Louis, her father and uncle became partners in Ed. F. Mangelsdorf & Bro, an early developer of hybrid corn seed. Their sister, her aunt Clara Mangelsdorf, oversaw the lab where the seed was developed.  As a teen, Mary Katherine worked in the company’s headquarters on the St. Louis riverfront. The company’s Embro brand became a familiar logo on farm fenceposts and barns throughout the Midwest.

Mrs. Scardino earned a bachelor of science degree in 1942 from Maryville College. The following year she married Peter L. Scardino, a medical intern at St. Louis City Hospital. When he joined the Navy that year at the height of World War 2, they moved to New York where he was assigned to a small convoy escort vessel as the ship’s doctor.

When the war ended, they moved to Baltimore, where Dr. Scardino took up a residency in urology at Johns Hopkins University. After completing his studies, in 1949, they came with their three children to Savannah, where Dr. Scardino joined Charles Prince in the first urology practice in coastal Georgia.  Four more children soon followed.

While raising their children on Drayton Street, Washington Avenue, and 45th Street, she contributed book reviews and feature articles to the Savannah Morning News, The Georgia Gazette, and the magazine of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, as well as co-authoring local radio programs about the Catholic Church. She also served as Dr. Scardino’s first reader for his contributions to medical journals and textbooks. The two traveled extensively to medical conferences in the US, Europe, and Latin America.

In 1969, she purchased and directed the renovation of a 100-year-old house on Gaston Street facing Forsyth Park that had been a classroom building and fraternity house recently vacated by Armstrong State College. Bringing life back to one of the historic district’s finest houses had been a long-standing ambition. 

She filled it with antiques she’d been collecting since her twelfth birthday.  She earned a reputation as one of Savannah’s preeminent hostesses by also filling it with new and old friends, family members and visiting dignitaries. Her daily exercise routine, pedaling her bike three times around Forsyth Park, greeting neighbors and visitors with a gentle “Good morning” made her a familiar presence to a generation of downtown residents. 

Over the years, she participated in civic, cultural, and artistic affairs in Savannah. She was an active member of the Historic Savannah Foundation and a trustee of Savannah Country Day School.  While developing a paper (“The Plantation Mistress”) about the wives of plantation owners at the request of the South Carolina Historic Society, she became a founding member of the Live Oak Public Libraries Foundation, the support arm for southeast Georgia’s three-county public library system. It was her special interest, and she served as a trustee and life member. In addition, she joined organizations that sustained her myriad interests, including the Georgia Poetry Society, Savannah Record Club, Savannah Friends of Music, Savannah Symphony Guild, Savannah-Ogeechee Canal Society, and Savannah Tree Foundation.

After her husband’s death, she joined the Memorial Health Foundation in growing the Peter L. Scardino Legacy Society, which was started by John E. Cay III as a tribute to Dr. Scardino and his long, dedicated service to the health care needs of the community.

A devout Catholic, educated by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, she became a loyal and enthusiastic supporter of her parish church, first at Blessed Sacrament and later at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. She often credited a good outcome to the prayers said by the Coffee Bluff Carmelites for the family causes she fed them.

Over her decades in Savannah, her busy life was made possible by the dedication and service of three women who helped care for her family: Estella Jenkins, Mollie Frazier, and Mattie Lee Bryant. 

Since 1996 she has had the generous, careful, and thoughtful attention of John Wayne O’Neal, who organized the care of her late husband during a long encounter with Parkinson’s disease. Since Dr. Scardino’s death in 2004, Mr. O’Neal has overseen the home and personal care of Mrs. Scardino, with a team of caregivers: Marjorie Jefferson, Ranarda Hankerson, Jill Truell, Amanda Davis, Betty Green, and Rhonda Smith.

She is survived by her seven children, Lucy E. of Culver City, CA; Peter T. of New York; Albert J. of London, England; Katherine S. Balch of Plainfield, NJ; Ann S. Rogers of St Petersburg, FL; Tom K. of Atlanta; and John P. of London, England; 21 grandchildren; 22 great- grandchildren; and two brothers, Albert Mangelsdorf and Thomas K. Mangelsdorf, both of St. Louis.

A Mass will be live-streamed on Thursday, September 9, 2021, at 10 am (savannahcathedral.org). A memorial service will be held when pandemic conditions allow.

 In lieu of flowers, she requested that at her death, donations be sent to the Live Oak Public Libraries Foundation, liveoakpl.org/foundation/support 2002 Bull Street, Savannah, GA 31401; the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (savannahcathedral.org), 222 East Harris, Savannah, GA 31401; or another charitable organization.

 

 

SHARE YOUR CONDOLENCES

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GUEST BOOK

Mrs Scardino will be truly missed, it was a pleasure getting to know her!

- Ranarda Hankerson, Portwentworth, Georgia

Tom & Holly and Family, Prayers of deep peace and love for all. Your mom lived a life full of love and care for others. Rest well, Katherine... a true and faithful servant.

- Kelly Kilpatrick Hunt, Savannah, Georgia

Kay Scardino is one of the most exciting, brilliant, and inspiring people I have ever known. I shall always admire and respect her and draw inspiration from her.

- Roderick Guerry, Savannah, Georgia

Lucy and family, so sorry for your loss.

- Tony Field , St. Simons Is. , Ga

So many memories, our very special Mrs.Scardino! Thomas and Molly

- Thomas mcgoldrick, Savannah, GA

So many memories, our very special Mrs.Scardino! Thomas and Molly

- Thomas mcgoldrick, Savannah, GA

I am retired from Urological Associates of Savannah where Dr. Scardino was one of the founding physicians. Mrs. Scardino was always so kind and generous in loaning books to me and so very kind to my son. Such a grand, intelligent lady. I feel honored to have known her. My sincere condolences, Debbie R.Usher

- Deborah Usher, Richmond Hill/Palm Springs, GA/CA

God Bless Kay, a wonderful lady and lifetime family friend

- Stephen McGoldrick, Frederick, MD

Although we never met Mrs Scardino, we are fortunate enough to experience her influence on this world through her family. Our prayers and hopes are with all whom she touched during her long and exceptional life.

- Sharon Manitta (Salisbury, England) and Tasia Campbell & Family (London, England), England, United Kindgom

Living directly across 45 Street from the Scardinos , there was never a dull moment…troops of dark haired children constantly coming and going kept our portion of Ardsley Park an epicenter of activity…and always Kay and Scar were there with their ever calm demeanor, coolness and ready smiles…

- Charles Ellis III, Savannah, Ga

Services under the direction of:

Fox & Weeks Funeral Directors, Hodgson Chapel
912-352-7200

  • Services Will Be Private