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Kay Buttleman Forest

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Kay Buttleman Forest Obituary
Kay Buttleman Forest

Kay Buttleman Forest, 67, of Sycamore, Illinois, passed away peacefully Tuesday, August 19, 2014, in DeKalb.

Kay was born in Berkeley, California, and grew up in Dallas, Texas. She also spent some years living in Canada and upstate New York. She held a variety of jobs along the way, ranging from a fraternity cook to broadcasting on a local radio station. Wherever she lived, learning and having new experiences were very important to her.

Kay earned a B.A. and a M.F.A. in visual arts at the University of North Texas. She later earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Human Development and Family Studies from Cornell University. In 1990 Kay came to Northern Illinois University as an assistant professor in Sociology and taught courses related to families, social change, gender, race and ethnicity. She was the director of Graduate Studies in 2000 and served as chair of the Sociology Department in 2002 until she retired in 2008.

In addition to her teaching and administrative position, she also authored and co-authored a number of publications for journals and professional meetings. Kay also gave service to the university, prior to and after retirement, by her involvement with initiatives/programs such as: Women's Studies and other academic diversity programs; the Multicultural Curriculum Transformation Task Force; search committees; and her work on special projects with the provost's office, which focused on faculty leadership and interdisciplinary studies.

She was dedicated and compassionate about applying the lessons she taught in the classroom to her work with individuals and families. Her sabbatical in 1999 was to study Women in Poverty/Kensington Welfare Rights Union, Pennsylvania and then co-organized a conference locally on social and economic justice. Kay also participated in a number of global initiatives in China, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines. This interest and passion also resulted in her being instrumental in establishing a local group, Teach Girls Global, whose focus is the education of women and girls in developing communities.

During her tenure at NIU, Kay was honored by receiving the Student's Choice Award, from the Student Association; the Recognition of Teaching Excellence, from the Center for Access- Ability for Students; "Most Inspirational Woman," nominated by the women of El Pueblo Unido; and the Wilma D. Stricklin Award for the Enhancement of the Climate for Women on Campus at NIU.

Music was very important throughout her life. She was an accomplished pianist and had a wonderful soprano voice. She shared these talents as a co-founder and past member of the DeKalb's women's choir, Bread and Roses, sang and was a board member of the DeKalb Festival Chorus, and served as music director at Mayfield Congregational Church in Sycamore, Illinois for three years.

She loved to travel and explore the world around her, whether it was taking a hike, paddling in a kayak, or walking through a museum or crowded street. Kay found such joy in meeting new people along the way and hearing their stories. Kay enjoyed learning different languages throughout her life. She spoke French, Spanish, German, and after retiring learned to speak Italian by attending classes at the university. She then took a trip to Florence, Italy, to sharpen up her grammar skills. Kay was very interested in genealogy. Her research skills helped her to navigate through numerous documents on the internet and in archives as far away as Salt Lake City. She also traveled to Massachusetts to visit family sites.

She was an avid reader, and it was not unusual to witness her reading two or three books at the same time. Knowledge acquired through her readings and life experiences helped guide Kay in her desire to have meaningful conversations, whether it was about world affairs or how to select the best variety of tomatoes for her prized vegetable garden.

Kay was an amazing woman with many talents and interests. She lived life to its fullest, always looking forward to the next adventure. Kay made a difference in this world. Part of her legacy is the knowledge, spirit, laughter, dignity, grace, and courage she shared with all who knew her.

Kay is survived by her life partner, Mary Haddad; two sisters, Barbara (Dennis) Deatherage and Nancy (Glen) Guilbeau; nephews, Todd (Megan) Deatherage, Jonathan(Erin) Deatherage, Artyom Deatherage and Lukas Guilbeau; great-nephew, Emmet Andrew Deatherage; and great-nieces, Cara Alice Deatherage and Nora Kay Deatherage.

Kay was preceded in death by her parents, Robert Keyes Buttleman and Alice (Milligan) Buttleman.

Cremation has taken place.

A memorial service to celebrate Kay's life will be announced at a later date.

Memorials for Kay can be made to Friends of Jane Adeny Memorial School, 320 South California Street, Sycamore, IL 60178; and the Music Therapy Program of Hospice, Kish Health System Foundation, 1 Kish Hospital Drive, DeKalb, IL 60115.

Many thanks to all the staff at Rush Medical Center, Brain and Lung Oncology; KishHealth System Cancer Center; Oak Crest Health Center, KishHealth System Hospice, and family and friends for their great support and care of Kay.

For information, visit www.AndersonFuneralHomeLtd.com or call Anderson Funeral Home, DeKalb, at 815-756-1022
Published in Daily-Chronicle.com on Aug. 23, 2014
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