S. Kay Montgomery
S. Kay Montgomery, beloved sister, aunt, friend and colleague, died December 12, 2013 at Unity Point Iowa Methodist Hospital.
A child of the Depression, Kay shared a given first name with many other little girls whose parents admired the star of 1930s movies "Curly Top" and "Heidi". Her family quickly realized that kindergarten was filled with girls named Shirley, so she became "Kay" and was known by her middle name for the rest of her life.
Kay spent her early life in Chariton. Although her older sister Patricia continually bossed her around, Kay bore that burden with her typical good cheer. In later years, she and Patricia shared a deep bond of mutual affection and interests and they traveled extensively together visiting historical sites and the national parks. After Patricia's death in 1985, Kay enjoyed friendships with many others in the Des Moines community whom she met through her involvement in numerous civic and charitable activities. She was always a patient, loving big sister to her younger siblings Janice and Linda and to her brother David, who were close to her age. For her youngest brother Dan, who was born one month prior to her high school graduation, she was like a second mother.
Like many young women who read "Cherry Ames, Student Nurse" novels, Kay dreamed of one day wearing a white cap and a cape of blue with a red lining, the then-symbol of the registered nurse. Her aspirations were fulfilled when she graduated from the Iowa Methodist Hospital School of Nursing in 1956. Following graduation, Kay began a life of service to Iowa Methodist and its successors Iowa Health System and Unity Point System. Except for two years during which she left employment to pursue her nursing education at Marycrest College and the University of Iowa, Kay was associated with Methodist until her death. Kay's life was filled with stories about the hospital, from being a young student nurse in charge of an entire floor on the night shift to her final official position as Chief Nursing Executive. Kay once was interviewed by the Des Moines Register in a story about the lack of female officers in Des Moines hospitals. Her response, typical of her humility, was "the title doesn't matter to me". After her retirement in 1997, Kay was still involved with committees within the Iowa Health (now Unity Point) system and made more friends with her new colleagues at Iowa Lutheran.
After Iowa Methodist, Kay's life revolved around her family. She doted on younger family members and brought delight when she filled the role of Santa Claus each Christmas. Little brothers, nephews and nieces could hardly contain their excitement when the trunk of her car was opened and beautifully wrapped gifts came into view. She loved decorating birthday cakes and baking special treats, including a marshmallow castle that still brings an expression of amazement to those who view old photos. Kay served as the family banker and almost everyone in her family was the recipient of loans with generous repayment terms with no interest.
Her professional recognition included being selected as the Iowa Nurse Administrator of the Year, an honor of which she was deeply proud. She also belonged to numerous organizations serving women or those interested in American history including the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Iowa Huguenot Society and Altrusa. In her retirement she took particular interest in helping seniors by volunteering with Iowa's Senior Health Insurance Information Program. She showed them how to navigate the numerous options available to them as the result of Medicare Part D coverage for prescription drugs and the expanded offerings through the Medicare Advantage program. Her clients at Wesley Acres were important to her and her schedule as a volunteer was almost as busy as when she was employed, especially during the hectic open enrollment season each Fall.
Although her friends at Iowa Methodist have told her family she was viewed as an "icon", she was also human with many worldly interests. She enjoyed Harlequin romances and the Planned Parenthood book sale has been the recipient of many once-read novels over the years. She could never forget the hard times following the Depression and stocked up on cake mixes and flour (probably to make birthday cakes and her famous rolls) even though her cupboard was full of previously-purchased sale items. She loved the movies "Gone with the Wind", "Sound of Music" and "The Wizard of Oz" (even the scary part with the flying monkeys).
Her faith played an important role in her life. Until the death of her mother in 2011, she was a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Chariton. Recently, she transferred her membership to Park Avenue Presbyterian in Des Moines, where she quickly became part of the fabric of the church and made many friends.
In her last days, she looked forward to once again seeing in heaven her grandparents Ben and Coral Lenig, parents Earl and Dorothy Montgomery, and sister Patricia. Left behind to treasure the gift her life has been to them are her sisters Janice (Richard) Allison of Moravia, Linda Robinette of Sun City West, AZ, brothers David (Jean) Montgomery of Sun City West, AZ and Daniel (Jana) of Des Moines, eleven nephews and nieces, eight great nephews and nieces and five great-great nephews and nieces.
Visitation will be from 4-8 p.m. Monday, December 16, 2013 at Hamilton's Southtown with funeral services at 10 a.m. Tuesday, December 17, 2013 at Park Avenue Presbyterian Church. An honor guard of nurses from Unity Point Des Moines will attend her. Graveside services will be at 1:30 p.m. December 17, 2013 at the Chariton Cemetery. Memorials may be directed to the Kay Montgomery Endowment at UnityPoint Health Foundation, Park Avenue Presbyterian Church or the First Presbyterian Church in Chariton.
Online condolences may be expressed at www.HamiltonsFuneralHome.com.
Hamilton's Southtown Funeral Home
5400 SW Ninth Street Des Moines, IA 50315
Published in Des Moines Register from Dec. 15 to Dec. 17, 2013