FLINT, Michigan — The Ruth Mott Foundation is mourning the loss and celebrating the life of Harriet Kenworthy, a trustee, remarkable citizen, and lovely friend whose unrelenting commitment to community volunteering made life better for Flint residents.
Harriet Balzer Kenworthy passed away February 22, 2022, at age 93, after decades of leadership and service to local organizations and causes. (Read about her remarkable life of service in her obituary, found here.)
A longtime friend of Ruth Rawlings Mott, Harriet was one of the original members of the Applewood Advisory Board, which Ruth Mott formed in 1977 to guide her as she worked to restore Applewood and plan for it to open to the public as a tribute to her late husband, Charles Stewart Mott.
Harriet championed the vision for Applewood and embodied Ruth Mott’s values of humor, welcoming attitude, inclusion, and respect. She served for the entirety of the Applewood Advisory Board’s existence as a member or as chairperson.
Later, Harriet became one of the first non-family members to join the Ruth Mott Foundation Board of Trustees in 2006.
“Knowing how highly respected she was – not only by Mother but the whole community – I felt she was an obvious early pick for the Board,” said Maryanne Mott, daughter of Ruth Mott and chair of the Ruth Mott Foundation Board. “As Trustee, she served for 12 years with diligence and distinction, offering her gentle form of soft-spoken leadership and frequent pearls of wisdom. For her dedication and many contributions, I will be forever grateful.”
Over many years, Harriet’s enormous spirit of generosity and advocacy and her deep love of Flint positively impacted our community and will continue to do so long into the future.
A sampling of the many boards and organizations to which Harriet gave her energy and wisdom include: Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Flint Community Schools Board of Education, Junior League of Flint, McLaren-Flint Hospital, Priority Children, United Way of Genesee County, and the YWCA of Greater Flint and its Foundation.
“The list of boards on which Harriet served speaks volumes to her commitment to community,” Maryanne said. “She was a woman of many dimensions and interests.”
As we made sure to tell her many times, we are so very thankful for Harriet’s years on and leading the Applewood Advisory Board and her service on the Ruth Mott Foundation Board of Trustees, including the years she served as a valued committee member and chair of the Leadership Award Committee and Applewood Master Plan Advisory Committee.
The Ruth Mott Foundation was enriched by Harriet’s service, and her spirit and devotion will be greatly missed. Our condolences go to Harriet’s family, friends, and all who knew and loved her.
Other words of tribute from her fellow trustees:
“Harriet truly defined community engagement and wherever she showed up she demonstrated what it meant to serve as a volunteer: always prepare, complete any assignments, and contribute thoughtfully to discussions. I learned so much from her. She was a quiet, gracious warrior for Flint.” – Gloria Coles, Trustee Emeritus
“Harriet’s sound voice of reason, and quiet authority was respected and admired by all. When she spoke, everyone listened. Her observations were always wise, reflective, egoless, on point, and offered in a manner that commanded attention and thought. She always wanted what was best for the WHOLE community and I am grateful for her leadership and to have been blessed to have her as a role model all of these years! She will be missed but not forgotten.” – Shannon Easter White
“I arrived in the public domain in Genesee County in 1986. As I began to attend community meetings, Harriet was always present. ‘I’m a community volunteer,’ she told me, always making me feel welcome even when we disagreed. Quiet, thoughtful, patient, measured, calm, yet deliberate in point of view, she set an example and modeled productive demeanor regardless of topic or level of controversy. When I last worked with her in person 35 years later, nothing had changed. It’s no wonder the list of organizations for whom she served was so long. I’ll miss her.” – Robert Pestronk