Kathryn “Kay” Sue Ketcham, 74, beloved sister, died peacefully surrounded by her family on June 20, 2021, at Olathe Health Hospice House. Kay is survived by her sister, Julia Louise Lynn of Olathe, Kansas and her brothers Paul Wheeler Ketcham of Portland, Oregon and William “Bill” Harold Ketcham of Hochheim, Germany; sisters-in-law Wantana Ketcham and Barbara Ketcham, brother-in-law Jeffrey Lynn, and dearly loved nieces Emily Lynn and Laura Ketcham and nephews Garrett Ketcham and Robbie Lynn and his wife Mary Beth. Kay was preceded in death by her parents William “Bill” Milo Ketcham and Zona Julia (Schroeder) Ketcham.
Kay was born on November 3, 1946 at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri and spent her first 14 years at the family’s childhood home where she explored the beauty of nature in the yard, all lovingly tended by her dad. Her mom, who had a beautiful singing voice and love of nature, imparted those qualities as well.
Kay graduated from Shawnee Mission North High School in 1964 and followed in her parents’ footsteps to Park College where she received a full scholarship. She graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in English Literature. She was active in numerous college leadership roles including the President’s Council, Student Life and Park Singers. While at Park, Kay excelled in studies of Shakespeare and Tennyson and earned the respect of her professors. Her time at Park was the beginning of life-long friendships that she nurtured and developed throughout her life. It was also the launching pad to a legendary career at BMA, a reinsurance company where she and her fellow women colleagues blazed the trails for women in business. She began as a Correspondent in Policy Owner Service and advanced to her final role as the first woman Vice-President of Regional Sales. A champion of “the women at BMA” she used her natural savvy to help advance and mentor fellow women up the corporate ladder.
Early on in her career, Kay distinguished herself as a capable employee with keen intelligence, sharp wit, and exceptional social skills, qualities which were manifest in both her personal and professional life. Over the decades, Kay advanced to ever higher positions within the company by respectfully and persuasively challenging traditional views of women in the workplace. One of the glass ceilings that she broke through was the company custom of not having women in positions of travel representing the company to its customers.
As Kay possessed a passion for travel, she pursued these travel opportunities within BMA that traditionally had been held by men. In 1976, Kay wrote a ground-breaking article in the company journal entitled “Women on the Road?” In that article, she persuasively countered every argument, both implicit and explicit, that company leadership held when considering the issue of women traveling on behalf of their companies. Kay wrote: “I cannot stress enough the importance of giving women the same opportunity that men have to show themselves effective and responsible representatives of their companies…The burden and the responsibility should be ours—work with us to give us this chance.”
Over the years she travelled the Midwest and West Coast sales regions, obtaining new reinsurance customers and providing services to existing clients. She was recognized in many sales awards over the years and continued in her executive positions within the company (later acquired by Generali), always in a position with travel. She retired in 2007. Her career was the love of her life and provided the means to follow her dreams to travel worldwide.
In her personal life, Kay developed a wide social circle and developed many life-long friendships. The six passports issued to her during her lifetime serve as a testimonial of her fervent desire “to see the world” and explore multiple continents and the countries therein, absorbing a diversity of cultures, languages, histories, and geographies. Her favorite destination of travel was Paris and she dearly loved the French language and culture and especially the region of Provence. With her best friends at her side, she traveled to most countries in Europe and visited parts of the Middle East, Mexico and South America, Bermuda, Caribbean (Cayman and Virgin Islands, Jamaica) and Asia (Thailand and Bhutan). She was especially proud of her travels to the United Arab Emirates (Dubai and Abu Dhabi), Syria, Jordan, Turkey (Istanbul) and Peru (Machu Picchu).
Kay made numerous trips to NYC with her friends attending Broadway Theater, the New York City Ballet, and many operatic and orchestral performances. She was a loyal supporter of the Kansas City arts community including volunteering at the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum and attending Friends of Chamber Music, the KC Symphony, UMKC Repertory Theater and the KC Chorale.
She deeply loved her family and was a devoted daughter, sister and “Auntie.” She had a deep and abiding loyalty and love of her dear friends, who also became her family. Kay had a fond love of animals including her beloved kitty Lucy and the family dogs. She is remembered by all as kind, generous, curious, articulate, funny and beautiful. She loved to read, had exquisitely sophisticated taste, a wonderful sense of humor, was caring, understanding, supportive and a great story-teller. She was an amazing conversationalist who enjoyed life to the utmost. Kay was a true “bon vivant” in life and her endearing legacy lives on through many cherished memories.
Kay and her family are deeply appreciative of the skilled, compassionate and loving care she received from Synergy Homecare, Aberdeen Village and during her final days at The Olathe Hospice House. The experience of one of life’s most poignant moments was met with abounding grace from her “guardian angels” from the Aberdeen Village and Olathe Hospice House staff. We will always keep these special people close to our hearts.
Memorials can be made to:
Olathe Health Hospice House
15310 Marion St. Olathe, KS 66601
17500 W 119th St
Olathe, Kansas 66061
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