Mary Katharine Pratt Salovaara, 94, known to many as “P.K.,” died Friday, April 5, 2019, at the home of her daughter Katharine “Kate” Pratt Salovaara Brower in Greensboro, N.C., where she had moved March 6. She had been a resident of her beloved Jenningston Farm in Tucker County, W.Va., for nearly 30 years, the last four and a half with her niece, Katharine West Parker.
Her six children, Erik Jorma, Kristian Robert, Katharine Pratt, Jonn, Kaarina and Lauri Mikael, had all visited with her during her time in Greensboro. Her sons, Jonn and Kris, were present along with daughter Kate at her passing. Her children, their spouses, 18 grandchildren, three grandchildren-in-law and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and their families, are inspired by her extraordinarily positive and productive life, including her commitment to fully play out all her days.
In 1989 she retired to West Virginia from Chicago, ending her career as a law librarian with Baker McKenzie. Previously she worked at Northwestern University Law School, Kirkland & Ellis, Informatics, Moraine Valley Community College, Triton College, and the University of Chicago’s Harper Memorial Library. She was married to Jorma Julius (J.J.) Salovaara for 41 years, and they lived with their children in numerous communities throughout the U.S.
She was born in Bellefontaine on Nov.9, 1924, a proud descendant of the Blind Man Eloquent, Judge William H. West. Her mother was Katharine West and her father was the surgeon Malcolm Lewis Pratt M.D. She graduated from Denison University in 1945 where she received her B.A. in economics and was a member and officer of Kappa Alpha Theta. In 1951, she received a master’s degree in library science from the University of Denver, where she met and married Jorma, who died in 1994.
Mary Katharine was a force for literacy, education, and reforestation through many volunteer activities during her West Virginia retirement.
She oversaw the planting of thousands of red spruce and balsam fir trees at Jenningston, was active at the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, in a wide variety of other community organizations, and at Grace Episcopal Church in Elkins. She cared for the house and grounds at Jenningston Farm, welcoming a myriad of family and friends over the years.
Mary Katharine bequeathed her body to the Anatomical Gift Program at Elon University’s School of Health Sciences. Donations in her memory may be made to TCF/Mary Katharine Salovaara fund, Tucker Community Foundation, PO Box 491, Parsons, WV 26287.
A service will be held in her honor in West Virginia in late August.