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F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 2
Kathleen Marie Bishop, 64,
wife of retired FSO James K. Bishop,
died of brain cancer on Sept. 29 at their
home in Washington, D.C.
Born and raised in Portland, Ore.,
Mrs. Bishop was both an engineer and
an artist. While attending school in
Seattle, she worked on mechanical
drawings for the Boeing Corporation’s
747 plane. In 1977 she graduated from
The George Washington University
with a B.S. in mechanical engineering,
one of only two women in her class.
Returning to Washington, D.C.,
after the first time she accompanied
her husband abroad, she was privately
employed for three years designing
light tables for use in photo interpreta-
While her engineering degree was
her meal ticket, Mrs. Bishop’s passion
was art. A third-generation quilter and
quilt historian, she worked as a board
member of the Chevy Chase Needle
Chasers on numerous projects, includ-
ing making quilts for those afflicted
with HIV/AIDS in the Washington,
D.C., area. On one occasion, at the re-
quest of the Bill Clinton administration,
she sewed together the quilt blocks re-
ceived from every state and territory to
help decorate the White House at
A gifted water colorist, Mrs. Bishop
exhibited her paintings at theWashing-
ton Art League Gallery and other gal-
leries inWashington, Baltimore and the
Maryland counties. She was juried into
many shows, won her share of awards,
and sold a satisfactory number of her
paintings. She was a longtime board
member and one-time interim presi-
dent of the Washington Art League, as
well as a juriedmember of the Potomac
Valley Watercolorists Association and
the Miniature Painters, Sculptors &
Gravers of Washington.
In 2009 she was accepted for docent
training by the National Art Gallery and
continued her training even after learn-
ing she had a fatal illness. With the
help of colleagues, she received her do-
cent certificate three months before
her death. In the three final years of
her life Mrs. Bishop also worked as a
glass artist, fusing beautiful household
items and jewelry in a kiln at the cou-
ple’s weekend home in St. Leonard,
It was as an art teacher that Mrs.
Bishop found greatest satisfaction. The
imagination of her young students at
Blessed Sacrament School inWashing-
ton, D.C., thrilled her; and, despite her
diminutive size, her wit and presence
kept rowdy teenagers focused on their
In retirement she focused much of
her energy working with fifth-grade
girls at risk because members of their
families were involved in Alexandria’s
courts. At A Space of Her Own weekly
meetings, she had excellent rapport
with the girls as a mentor and as the lit-
tle lady who taught them to produce
hand-painted silk scarves and other
works of art they had imagined were
beyond their capabilities.
Accompanying her husband on am-
bassadorial assignments to Niger
(1979-1981), Liberia (1987-1990) and
Somalia (1990-91), Mrs. Bishop sup-
ported his work. She traveled through-
out Niger and Liberia visiting local
officials and Peace Corps Volunteers.
She worked with local women’s craft
and health groups and served as a
board member of Operation Smile in
Liberia. In Niger, she offered the resi-
dence pool to all Americans and on
every assignment tried to make the
Peace Corps Volunteers and young
Marines feel at home.
Soon after her arrival in Mogadishu
she narrowly escaped death when a So-
mali fired a pistol at her head from 10
feet away. But she declined to leave,
remaining in the capital until all official
American dependents were evacuated
several months later. When the extent
of violence downtown kept members of
the international community from at-
tending church, she offered the official
residence for religious services.
At her husband’s retirement, Mrs.
Bishop was awarded a Certificate of
Appreciation by the State Department
for her contributions to the American