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ROBERT KAY - BURLINGTON - Robert "Bob" Kay, 37, of Burlington, a leader in self-advocacy for the disabled, passed away on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012, from complications due to heart failure. Bob was born in Massachusetts in 1974 and moved to Colchester at the age of eight, with this brother, Benjamin. His late mother, Pam Kay, was an education researcher with UVM. Bob attended Colchester High School. He was engaged to be married to Beverly Williams of Milton. Bob was a much loved and highly valued presence in self-advocacy for the disability community worldwide. He was President of Green Mountain Self Advocates (GMSA) for a time, and recently consulted nationally for the Center for Disability Inclusion. The organization, Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered, likewise took him throughout the country on his mission. A spokesperson for the Howard Center wrote, "He lived his life with passion, vibrancy and goodwill. He was the guy with the Dunkin' Donuts cup of coffee and shorts in January. He was kind, inclusive and believed very strongly in his work in advocacy for the people we serve." Bob was also a member of the Special Olympics Vermont (SOVT) Board of Directors and competed in nine of the 12 sports offered in more than 101 events. He was a member of Team USA at the Special Olympics Winter World Games in Nagano, Japan in 2005. He competed in golf at the first Special Olympics National Games in Ames, Iowa in 2006. Bob was also a leading voice as a Special Olympics Vermont Global Messenger. Jeff LaBonte, Chair of the SOVT Board of Directors wrote, "Bob was a valuable member of the Special Olympics Vermont Board of Directors for the past eight years. Having his perspective as an athlete allowed us all to be mindful of the big picture for the organization. His contributions and outgoing personality will be greatly missed." Bob traveled extensively, and among many other volunteer positions he volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, where he helped build homes as far away as New Zealand. Bob also worked at Ri Ra's Irish Pub in Burlington. His inspirational and supportive presence will be greatly missed by his family, friends, colleagues and communities. Bob was predeceased by his grandparents, Hester and Harold Kay of Danby; his mother, Pam Kay of Colchester; and his uncle, Thomas Kay of Rifle, Colo. Bob is survived by his fiancee, Beverly Williams; uncle, David Kay and his wife, Katy Weeks, of Harvard, Mass; brother, Benjamin Kay; sister-in-law, Amanda Kay; and nephew, Benjamin Kay Jr. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 17, 2012, at the First Unitarian Universalist Society, 152 Pearl Street, Burlington. A reception will follow at the church. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to, "Robert Kay Foundation for Special Olympics Vermont Athletes," 16 Gregory Drive, Suite 2, South Burlington, VT 05403.

Published in The Burlington Free Press on Mar. 4, 2012
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