Meet Kay: (Almost) a Century of Wisdom and Service

May is Older Americans Month, a time to acknowledge the lives and contributions of seniors around the United States. This month, the library is featuring Canton resident, Kay. 

Small Town Beginnings

Canton resident Kathryn, better known as "Kay," has 99 years of wisdom and experiences to share. A native of the Midwest, Kay was born in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, a small town that both nurtured and encouraged her to spread her wings.

Her father, a Congregational minister from England, and her mother, a schoolteacher from Colorado, encouraged her to both think and to do. This life philosophy served her well and has been the guiding principle of her long life. 

An Adventurous Life 

At a time when many women got married and were homemakers, Kay's mother encouraged her to seek a college education. Kay graduated from River Falls College (which is now Wisconsin State University—River Falls) in 1942 and began teaching high school biology in Algoma, Wisconsin.

However, after teaching five science classes a day, she decided that it was time to do something else and went to Syracuse University for graduate work in counseling. In time, she started working at Eastern Illinois State University and became the assistant to the Dean of Women.

At the end of World War II, Kay moved to Kaiserslautern, Germany to teach on the U.S. Army base as the country was being rebuilt. It was there that she met her husband, Don, and they began their life together, living a total of nine years in Germany.

An adventurer like Kay, Don took a job in Tripoli, Libya as a principal and the couple lived there for two years. It was there that they started their family, and their sons and daughter were all born overseas. After moving back to the United States, their adventures didn’t end. The family moved to Victoria, Australia and lived there for two years, returning afterwards to live in Buchanan, Michigan. 

Kay retired from teaching in 1989 and has enjoyed retirement life with her family, which had expanded to include seven grandchildren, some as far away as Australia. After moving to Canton in 2016, Kay’s husband Don died at the age of 92 in 2017. 

Secrets to Longevity

When asked about her longevity secrets, Kay's answer is surprisingly humble—good genetics and luck are the keys to her long life.

While she doesn’t mention an active life as a factor, it is apparent that being engaged with her community is important. She has always found a place on a council or as a volunteer in her church. She also enjoys gardening and book groups and started a walking group at her senior living residence. Kay still walks a mile each day and seeks out local parks as places to enjoy her hikes as well.

Libraries have been an essential part of her life, and she has always found the local library wherever she lived, whether here in the United States or overseas. Always one to give to others, she and a group of her fellow residents have also volunteered to read in local schools for “March is Reading Month.”