December 28, 1928 – December 3, 2020
On December 3, 2020, Katharine (Kay) Stewart, staying at Dunrovin Lodge in Quesnel, peacefully passed during her afternoon rest time. Kay spent the morning with her daughter Jennifer, looking at family picture albums and a new book written by her dear sister-in-law, Heather Kellerhals Stewart, about a 1924 trip to Europe taken by her much loved mother-in-law Ruth Stewart.
Kay is very much missed by her two daughters, Margaret Stewart (Dennis) of Quadra Island and Jennifer Hay(Robin) of Quesnel, and her only grandson David Hay. Kay is predeceased by her husband John (2007), eldest daughter Chris (2016), and only granddaughter Katharine Hay (2010). She is missed and fondly remembered by her American and Stewart relatives.
Kay was born to Edward and Helen Gundy in Toronto on December 28, 1928 where she lived until she was 8 years old when the family, now including younger brother George, moved to Larchmont, New York. Kay remained Canadian at heart not liking to sing the American anthem and being excused from saying the pledge of allegiance each day at school as she remained a Canadian citizen.
She grew up with both her Dad’s family ties in Toronto and her Mother’s New England family network. Kay returned to Canada to attend Queen’s University, Kingston in 1945.
With the war just over and free university tuition for returning servicemen, Kay told us “the female students had their pick for dancing and dates”. She and 11 others lived in an old barracks and dubbed themselves the Happy 12. They enjoyed weekends of watching football games, parties, and travels to Toronto, and home to Kay’s house where a short train ride took them to Broadway shows. Kay graduated with a History, Political Science, English Arts degree.
She married John Stewart of Toronto, whom she had known since early childhood, in 1950. They lived in Toronto, then Barrie Ontario, enjoying their log cabin cottage on Lake Simcoe, holiday travels, and a busy family life.
On summer vacations the family loved trips west and moved to B.C. in the 70s. Kay and John decided in 1974 to settle in Nelson because it wasn’t growing, had a Scottish Country Dance group, and year round recreation.
Kay valued being involved in community, so as she had in Barrie, became part of the Hospital Auxiliary, the University Women’s Club and supported the library and St. Saviour’s Cathedral. She was delighted to find a group of talented weavers and joined the Wednesday Weavers and also continued her many other crafting interests.
She and John shared a passion for history and enjoyed participation in the Nelson historical society. Kay and John participated in 23 Kootenay Mountaineering Club summer hiking camps often as organizers with Kay as head menu planner. As well as these summer trips Kay and John traveled extensively, both in Canada and abroad, often accompanied by Nelson or Ontario friends or family.
Wherever they went they enjoyed returning to their North Shore home, and gardens. As a lifelong bookworm, Kay participated in two Nelson book clubs enjoying the laughter and food shared along with the serious discussion of literature.
A visit to Mom in Nelson usually involved going out Scottish Dancing, participating in a fitness class at the pool or community hall, listening to a book group discussion, and in later years hearing her sing as a member of Second Winds.
In Kay’s ‘super senior’ years she joked “It’s all downhill after 80”. We were so impressed with our Mother’s uncomplaining approach to dealing with several falls, follow up regime of physiotherapy and lengthy time spent in Kootenay care facilities. She decided to move to Quesnel in 2017 to be close to family.
She was always keen for some outing during her final three years. Kay didn’t hesitate to fly south for a winter holiday or brave the Quesnel temperatures for ” getting my fresh air ” walks by the Fraser River.
Thank you Mother for being such a wonderful role model for your daughters. Kay’s dignity, patience and generosity of spirit was inspiring for many of us.
We will gather in Nelson later this year to Celebrate her Life.
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