St. Mary’s graduate and leading conservative voice dies at 67

St. Mary’s graduate and leading conservative voice dies at 67
Kate O'Beirne, a St. Mary's graduate and conservative journalist, died on April 23. She was 67. (Photo via @ONeillLaura on Twitter)

Kate O’Beirne, who grew up in Manhasset and became a leading conservative voice as Washington editor of the National Review and a television news pundit, died of cancer on April 23. She was 67.

The Interior Department, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank, were among the places O’Beirne worked over her career.

O’Beirne was born in Brooklyn in 1949 and grew up in South Strathmore in an Irish-Catholic Republican family that enrolled her in elementary and secondary school at St. Mary’s.

“Oftentimes she credits the nuns at St. Mary’s, it was an all-girls school that encouraged students to take leadership roles,” said Mary Ann Rowan, her sister.

O’Beirne, who participated in the debate team at St. Mary’s, used to ride a tandem bike to secondary school with her sister Virginia, Rowan said.

“She was always kind of a good leader,” Rowan said. “It was the niceness of growing up in Manhasset back in the 1960s and 70s.”

O’Beirne worked in customer service at Lord & Taylor and participated in the Girl Scouts, Rowan said.

After graduating from St. Mary’s, O’Beirne studied journalism at Good Counsel College, a Catholic women’s school in White Plains, New York, Rowan said.

She left college to work on the 1970 U.S. Senate Campaign of James Buckley, brother of conservative author William F. Buckley, who won the seat running as a member of the Conservative Party of New York. 

After finishing her undergraduate degree, O’Beirne earned a law degree in 1976 from St. John’s University in Queens, Rowan said.

A year earlier, she married James O’Beirne, then a captain in the U.S. Army,  in a ceremony at St. Mary’s, Rowan said.

Then they moved to different places in California, Germany and eventually ended up back in Washington, D.C., where he worked at the Pentagon, she added.

Over the ensuing years, O’Beirne worked as the deputy assistant secretary for legislative affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services and as the deputy director of domestic policy studies at the Heritage Foundation.

Beginning in 1995, she spent 11 years as the Washington editor at the National Review, a conservative magazine founded by William F. Buckley.

“Tough and cheeky on television but spiritual and kind to those who knew her well,”  Robert Acosta, a national reporter at the Washington Post and a former Washington editor at the National Review, said in a tribute on the publication’s website. “A Beltway insider, to be sure, but a flinty conservative outsider at heart.”

In 2006, she published the provocative book “Women Who Make the World Worse: And How Their Radical Feminist Assault Is Ruining Our Families, Military, Schools and Sports.”

O’Beirne “faults those feminists who believe that a hostile patriarchy reigns and that women remain its helpless victims,” according to a description of the book on Amazon. “Their agenda is not profemale; it’s merely antimale.”

For the last few years, O’Beirne was doing political consulting, Rowan said.

She died of cancer in a Washington hospital.

She is survived by her husband; their two sons, Philip O’Beirne and John O’Beirne; three sisters, Mary Ann Rowan, Virginia Rowell and Rosemary Walsh; and four grandchildren.

“She was quite a woman,” Rowan said. “She was fun and we’re going to miss her.”

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