celebrating the scarletts

The Scarlett sisters, seated, Kendra and Lynn and standing, Tamara and Caryl.


Last month, four sisters gathered at Spalding Circle reminiscing about family and admiring the bench they have donated in their parents’ memory. From the bench they could easily see 32 Woodhaven Drive, where just minutes earlier they had received a friendly, impromptu tour of the house they grew up in.

The women—now in their 50s and 60s—are the Scarlett sisters: Caryl of Butler and Naples, Florida, Lynn of Washington, D.C., and Santa Barbara, Kendra of Bonners Ferry, Idaho and Tamara of Seattle.  Geographically scattered, the women have remained close and see one other more frequently since the deaths of their parents, Jim, in 2000, and Jinny, in late 2012.

Creating a memorial to their parents has been in the works for some time; choosing the right type and place and arranging for its installation by the public works department took a while. Set on a sturdy concrete slab, the bench, which overlooks the treed parklet, has an inscription that reads: “In Memory of Jim and Jinny Scarlett: Lovers of Life.”

Both Jinny, born here at 370 Jefferson Drive in 1923, and Jim, were well known and liked in Mt. Lebanon. Jinny already had earned degrees from Cornell University and Mills College when she met Jim while they both were studying architecture at Carnegie Tech.  Jim finished his degree; Jinny didn’t quite, but both went on to make an impact on this community. Jim served on Mt. Lebanon’s planning board and designed our recreation center.  Jinny was involved in her daughters’ activities—they all were swimmers—and was a tutor, an avid gardener, a birder and a hiker, thus an early advocacy of protecting Mt. Lebanon’s green spaces.

“Mom’s bedroom faced the park,” says Tamara. “She loved hearing the kids playing and having fun.”

“They both were Renaissance people,” says Lynn. “They loved, art, architecture, history… they had such a thirst for knowledge and life.”

The Scarlett memorial bench.
The Scarlett memorial bench.

As parents of four daughters, the Scarletts were ahead of their time. No career goal was off limits.  “It was, ‘You go girl!’” they agree. The sisters all married and with six children and seven grandchildren among them, pursued their dreams. Caryl stayed at home to raise her family and inherited her mother’s passion for gardening; Lynn was Deputy Secretary of the Interior during the George W. Bush administration and is now managing director of public policy for the Nature Conservancy; Kendra had a long career as a midwife, and Tamara is a massage therapist and artist in mixed media who also works for a hospice.

If you’re walking down Woodhaven or Longuevue, take a break to sit on the Scarlett memorial bench and reflect on a remarkable group of people who cared for Mt. Lebanon and put family first;  “They didn’t talk about family,” says Lynn of her parents. “They just did it.”


If you would like to consider making a gift in honor or in memory of someone, contact Public Information Officer Susan Morgans at 412-343-3780.


Photos by Judy Macoskey