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Kathleen 'Kat' Kinkade, 77; Pioneer Started Va. Commune

Kathleen Kinkade was inspired to found Twin Oaks after reading the book "Walden Two."
Kathleen Kinkade was inspired to found Twin Oaks after reading the book "Walden Two." (Courtesy Of Twin Oaks Community)

She quickly discovered communal living was devilishly difficult. "Freeloading hippies began to turn up," reporter Tamara Jones noted in a 1998 Washington Post magazine story. "Personality clashes made living cooperatively a constant challenge."

She found herself swamped with administrative chores and complaints that she was too authoritarian. Eventually, the community brought in facilitators to mediate the power struggle, and their recommendations resulted in more democratic governance.

Although Ms. Kinkade persevered, the challenge never got easier. "She left Twin Oaks once, 'with a man, but he wasn't mine,' " she once told The Post, "and she started a new commune that also frustrated and disappointed her. She ventured into the outside world for a while, then surprised herself by coming back."

She also got involved in sacred harp music through the nearby Yanceyville Church, where, as an atheist, she sang in the choir because she loved the harmonious, shape-note singing of the sacred harp tradition.

At 70, she moved into a tiny house in nearby Mineral (the first house she had ever owned) and enjoyed planting flowers and rescuing abandoned kittens. When she became too weak to live alone, Twin Oaks took her back in and community members tended to her needs until her death.

Ms. Kinkade's marriages to Donald Logsdon and George Griebe ended in divorce.

In addition to her daughter, from her first marriage, survivors include a granddaughter.

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