CLAUDE, Countess of Kinnoull, aged 81, one of Carmel's most distinguished residents, died at her home on July 21. A Requiem Mass was celebrated at the Carmelite Monastery, Carmel, California, on Thursday July 25.
Claude Kinnuull was born into one of Britain's wealthiest families. Her grandfather, Sir Frederick Wills, was one of the founders of the Imperial Group, one of the world's major tobacco companies and owner in the United Stales of Howard Johnson and Major Store Groups.
Shortly after the end of World War I, Claude Kinnoull married the Earl of Kinnoull.
She became a convert to the Catholic faith and began the most fruitful period of her life. Wishing to devote her talents and her fortune to some specific aspect of the Church, she sought advice from Pope Pius XI, who asked her aid in the African Missionary work of the Church and, in particular, the work of the White Fathers. Determined to learn at first hand about the Missions, Lady Kinnoull embarked on an extraordinary journey. Accompanied only by a Belgian priest, she set out to visit the whole of Africa.
Starting from Cairo in Egypt, she drove a lorry laden with medical supplies the entire length of Africa to Cape Town and then drove it back to Algiers. This journey took place in 1931. The total distance covered was 37,500 kilometres. Later, Lady Kinnoull published an account of this remarkable journey entitled: La Croisiere Bkue (The Blue Crusade).
After her return from Africa, Lady Kinnoull settled in Paris where she founded and personally supervised one of the earliest Hospices established specifically for the care of the terminally ill.
Lady Kinnoull was also actively interested in polities. She supported General Franco from the outset of the Spanish Civil War. She gave him early financial support and came to know the General and his After the Spanish Civil War, Lady Kinnoull returned to Paris but war in Spain was closely followed by World War Il and the German Army was approaching Paris. Escape to England was the obvious choice but this would have meant abandonment of Lady Kinnoull's much loved dog . . . which was out of the question. Lady Kinnoull therefore returned to Spain and eventually to the United States.
Soon after her arrival in the United Stales, Lads Kinnoull came to Carmel and was delighted to find what was then a tiny village in a forest with many residents who shared her European background and cultural interests. She bought a Spanish-style dwelling on the edge of the village, believing at the time that the house might have to accommodate other refugees from England if Germany won the war. This became her home for the next 45 years.
From the time of her arrival in Carmel, Lady Kinnoull played an active part in the cultural life of the Community. In the studio at her home she painted many local personalities. Her paintings were frequently exhibited locally and adorn local churches.
Lads Kinnoull was also an accomplished author. Her most successful novel Come Home, Traveller was published in the 1940s and received wide acclaim. She also wrote numerous short stories particularly concerned with animals. Although Lady Kinnoull never took American citizenship, she played an active part in local community life while her health permitted and was always ready to oppose the increased commercialisation which so dramatically changed the appearance and life of Carmel.
Lady Kinnoull's work far the Catholic Church was also recognised by the award of numerous decorations.
In November 1934 Lady Kinnoull became a member of the Third Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Lady Kinnoull was a director of the Catholic Herald from 1934 until 1966.