Mary Catherin was born an raised in a Gaelic-speaking home in Margaree. She was the daughter of Hugh MacFarlane and Mary Ellen (Molly) Moran. She moved to Boston as a teen, and later served as a WAAC in the United States Navy during World War II. After the war, she married Albert Basler with whom she had 7 children; they grew up surrounded by Cape Breton music, with mom playing the piano and her brother, Alec D MacFarlane, playing the fiddle. In Boston, Kay was actively involved in the Gaelic Club, and performed Gaelic songs with them at folk music festivals in Newport, RI and Washington DC. After Albert’s death, she worked as a secretary at Blood Research Institute in Boston.
Kay later married Mick MacDonald of New Waterford, N.S., returning to Cape Breton. She worked at the Beaton Institute at Cape Breton University, recording native Gaelic speakers from Canada, the US and Scotland, and translating Gaelic publications. She hosted the CBC Cape Breton radio program “Island Echoes”, served as president of both the New Waterford Gaelic Society and the Gaelic Society of Cape Breton. She was a longtime member of the Cape Breton Gaelic Choir. After her retirement, Kay continued her involvement with Gaelic, teaching evening Gaelic classes for over 25 years and singing with and coaching the Gaelic choir. She served as a consultant on Gaelic to several Cape Breton musicians and frequently fielded calls from Canada and the US for help with a needed Gaelic phrase or translation. In 2009, Kay was awarded an honorary doctorate by Cape Breton University for her contributions to promoting, preserving and teaching the Gaelic language.
Kay was a long time member of St. Leonard Parish New Waterford. Her strong faith provided the bedrock upon which she lived her life. She was a dedicated member of the Mount Carmel Parish CWL, and also sang in the choir.
Obituary taken from INMEMORIAM.ca