Bruce, Margaret K.
Margaret (Molly) K. Bruce, born July 13, 1918 in Batley, Yorkshire, UK, died peacefully at home in Mt. Kisco, NY at 94, on November 22, 2012 from the effects of stroke. The daughter of Percival Inman Kitchen and Elizabeth (Green) Kitchen, and sister to Stanley Kitchen Esq., Molly is predeceased by her beloved husband William James Bruce. Margaret received her MA in Modern Languages from Cambridge University in 1945 and spent the war years in London during the Blitz working for the Foreign Office Research Department. She was recruited as part of the conference staff for the first United Nations General Assembly held in London in 1946. She joined the Secretariat staff in NY in 1946 working at the temporary UN headquarters at Lehman (then Hunter) College. Margaret married fellow Secretariat member William James Bruce on June 28, 1952, whose service to the UN began with the founding conference in San Francisco in 1945. It was a true UN marriage. She was one of the last of the "Mohicans", Secretariat staff members whose service dates back to the founding of the UN. Molly joined the Human Rights Division in 1946 and served as Secretary of the Commission on Human Rights, working directly with its Chairperson, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt during the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1962, she was appointed Deputy Director of the Center for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs, the department focusing on the role of women in development issues and human rights. In a career at the UN spanning 32 years, Margaret's work in Human Rights included presiding over the World Conference on Human Rights, serving as Deputy Secretary General of International Women's Year and the first World Conference on Women. She traveled the world representing the Secretary General at conferences on Human Rights and the Status of Women. She was proud of her work on the draft covenants on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. When she retired from the United Nations in 1977, she was the highest-ranking British woman in the Secretariat for which the British government awarded her the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1978. Post retirement, she served on the National Board of Directors of UNA-USA from 1995 to 2003, and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Southern NY State Division and the Westchester Chapter of UNA-USA, serving terms as president of both. She was active with the Association of International Civil Servants (AFICS) holding office as its president from 1982 to 1984. Margaret served as the first woman president of (FAFICS), the Federation of Associations of Former International Civil Servants from 1985-1988. She will be remembered not only for her many achievements from the pioneering days of the United Nations but also for the way she championed its cause with her fortitude, grace and lovely smile.
She is survived by her daughter, Anne E. Bruce, son-in-law, William Sarokin and granddaughter, Hannah J. Sarokin of Mt. Kisco, NY and granddaughter, Emily N. Sarokin of Brooklyn, NY. In the UK, she is survived by nieces, Jennifer Griffin and Susan Jefferson. A memorial service will be announced. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the UNA-USA Southern New York Division at www.unasouthernny.org.
Published in the The Journal News on Nov. 28, 2012