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The Iron Butterfly

By Al McFarlane


Kathleen McFarlane-Davis 

My big sister Kathy died last Monday.

She was one of the architects of Insight News and the McFarlane Media Interests companies. I called her the Iron Butterfly. The idea – the image – fit her exactly. She was delicate, graceful, beautiful and elegant. She floated above, alighting here and there and moving on. And like the exquisite monarch she presented friendly, engaging and oh so vulnerable.

The image of a being so dainty;possessing resolve as hard as steel makes the picture complete. Kathleen McFarlane-Davis was the consummate warrior; organizing, planning and doing things, not just to the end, but with every intent of setting the agenda …the work plan for the next realm.

Noodling the notion that, for me, she was the Iron Butterfly, I researched and found the source of picture in my head. It was a 1960s rock band by that name. The band’s signature song was the 1968 hit “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” The lyrical refrain that most reflects Kathy’s spirit is simple …

Oh, won’t you come with me,
And take my hand.
Oh, won’t you come with me,
And walk this land.
Please take my hand.

Kathy was a leader and helper. She led by helping. Wherever she went, whatever she did, she made herself indispensable by taking on responsibility and working to complete ideas and projects.

When we launched Insight as a newspaper in 1976, in the basement of my North Minneapolis residence, Kathy was there, treating our cramped basement office like it was a penthouse office suite, and treating our audacious and fearless resolve like this is just who we are – committed to success in the name of our people.

There was no wiggle room, no room to slip or slide. No room to back out or back down. She shared the vision and kept us all committed to the mission.

I call my sister a person of knowledge and a human being par excellence. She came to knowledge by dancing. One of the books I read quotes a wise man saying, “some people dance to know…” That describes Kathy as well. She danced the Holy Dance.

We are Pentecostals. Our family was created within the framework of the Church of God In Christ, the nation’s largest Black Pentecostal denomination. The church is characterized, in part, by its relationship with the Holy Spirit. We know the Holy Spirit as a constant presence – an indwelling companion that regulates thought and behavior, if we allow and accept it.

One expression of the presence of the Holy Spirit is the Holy Dance. Born on the melodic urgency of the Hammond B-3 organ and the heartbeat of the drum that some would recognize as ancient Nyabinghi meditations, the Holy Dance chose open vessels – the willing – alighting and igniting a divine experience.

Kathy danced.

Kathleen McFarlane-Davis lived a life of service

On Monday, Oct. 3, Kathleen Marie McFarlane-Davis died in Kansas City, MO following complications from a stroke.

In her 71 years of life, the mantra she lived by was, “Love in action speaks louder than words. Pass it on.” She tried to model the biblical scripture, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” – Proverbs 3: 5-6.

McFarlane-Davis was a woman of pure joy who enjoyed the fine arts. She loved a great gospel choir, fashion shows and classic movies. She also led a life of servant-leadership to her family, the church and the Kansas City community. She served the Kansas City community along with her mother, Maxine “Queen Mother” McFarlane, through the National Action Committee for Social Change.

McFarlane-Davis served her church community for more than 40 years through her service to Barker Temple C.O.G.I.C., as the administrative assistant to Bishop E. Harris Moore and in later years at Barker Memorial Cathedral of Praise C.O.G.I.C. under the leadership of Bishop John M. Johnson as an advisor to church departments and auxiliaries.

Her service to her family reflected her passion for caring for others. The great legacy of Kathleen Marie McFarlane-Davis will continue through her daughter, Stephanie McFarlane and three grandchildren; Danielle Scott, Samara Smith and Gabrielle Davis with whom she assisted in raising. McFarlane-Davis’ legacy also extends through her four great-grandchildren. Additional surviving family members include her mother, Maxine “Queen Mother” McFarlane, for whom she cared, brothers and sisters Alvin McFarlane, Jr., Raymond McFarlane, Wain McFarlane, Gregory McFarlane, Patricia McFarlane, Micah McFarlane, Roland McFarlane, Julian McFarlane, Roslyn McFarlane and Lloyd McFarlane survive Mrs. McFarlane-Davis. She is preceded in glory by her father, Alvin McFarlane, Sr. and her sister, Julitta McFarlane.

October 18, 2016
The Journal For Community News, Business and The Arts serving the African American community in Minneapolis-St.Paul. Available on news stands and online at insightnews.com.

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