Kathryn Prisell Laird of Battle Creek, MI, passed away with grace the morning of April 24th, two days after her 90th birthday, in Madison, WI.
Kaye's family loved her so..."Dear Daughters"--Connie (Randy) Mann of Madison, WI, and Karen (Rod) DeSmet of Spring Lake, MI; "Treasured Grandchildren"--Garth (Ali) Mann, Jake (Jessica) Mann, Casey (Jason) Kloostra and Luke DeSmet; "Fun-filled Great Grandchildren"--Miles, Watts, Molly, Lincoln and Amelia; "Favorite Nieces and Nephew"--Nancy Kaye VanReeth, Marie Colby, Cindy VanNortwick, Randy Laird, Gwen Pernie and Patty Anderson. Kaye was preceded in death by her beloved parents and brother, Bob Anderson--who all died within three years after Kaye turned just 29 years old.
Kaye was born April 22, 1932 in Detroit to Lillian (Amundsen) and Milburn P. Anderson. Bouncing curls, a big beautiful smile, crackerjack intelligence and humor. Music flowed melodiously through her--she sang with "pear shaped tones" and played her piano, saxophone or double bass strings with soul.
In 1950 she graduated from Berkley High School in Berkley, MI. Her father was the Principal, then later the Superintendent--causing her to behave more than she would have liked!
In 1954 Kaye graduated with honors from Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI with a degree in Home Economics. Kaye did however regret letting her HS Guidance Counselor dissuade her from pursuing a business degree simply because she was a woman.
At an introductory board meeting of sorority (Alpha Xi Delta) and fraternity (Pi Kappa Phi) officers, Kaye tried to bum a cigarette off the cute guy across the table. When Jack Laird introduced himself, she mistakenly heard his name as "Joy Lard"...and miracle of miracles, was still willing to go out with him!
Kaye married Jack (John Dayton Laird), Sept. 26, 1953 in Detroit, MI. They moved to Jack's hometown, Battle Creek, while she student taught in Lakeview and commuted for her last year of college. Jack joined the family business, Blue Diamond Lumber Company, while preparing to serve his army ROTC commitment at Fort Belvoir, in Alexandria, VA. They spent two years there before returning to Battle Creek, their lifelong home.
They built three beautiful homes together. The Eastway Dr. house punctuated their daughter's formative years. Kaye's treats and projects as a Room Mother were so imaginative. The costumes she sewed--incredible. Two stone lions, Alfredo and Giovanni, greeted you at the Lakeside Dr. house. Their names were inspired from Jack and Kaye's trip to Italy. The Bayshore Dr. house was nestled in the woods. Kaye, with her amazing decorating skills, made this home so inviting. Squirrels chewed through screen doors just to check it out. A huge tree crashed through the roof to seek shelter during a relentless rain storm. This house unfortunately ended in flames due to a defective outlet and from then on it was condo-living for Kaye and Jack.
Kaye loved getting all gussied up for the Chesterfield Dances; going to the Barn Theater for plays and musicals; golfing, playing tennis and socializing at the B.C. Country Club; boating on Goguac Lake; snow skiing and taking adventurous canoe trips with friends and family.
Kaye's giving spirit, organization and productivity led her to volunteer with the First Congregational's Church Circle (President); Town Hall Lecture Series (President); Nutrition Council of Calhoun County; Community Advisory Council for Upjohn Health Care Services; Food Surplus Bank; B.C. Urban League (Board of Directors); B.C. Human Relations Commission; and Junior League (President). Kaye also belonged to AAUW (American Association of University Women) who promote higher education, address gender pay gap and support women's career advancement; Home Economics Association, Willard Library Planning Group, PTA, Band Boosters, Dying Poets Society, Red Hat Society, and Girl Scouts. Additionally she was employed as an instructor of Adult Foster Care and Nurse/Home Care Aide Training at Kellogg Community College from 1975-1987.
Kaye became a genealogy buff, visiting libraries, churches and graveyards hither and yon. She even traveled with Jack to Sweden, Norway and Denmark to meet up with her Scandinavian relatives. To her eternal chagrin, her inquiries revealed that she was NOT related to Roald Amundsen (some would say the rightful discoverer of the South Pole) as previously suspected.
Family gatherings at their Lake Michigan cottage met soul-level needs for all involved. Evening deck parties were the stuff of dreams--games, laughter, wonderful discussions, scrumptious food and drink--interrupted only to guess how many seconds until the sun completely disappeared below the horizon.
Bursting with creativity, Kaye silk-screened Christmas cards every year; her pottery was featured at a local artist's showcase; her haiku poetry won awards and was published; she excelled at calligraphy; she spent hours upon end splicing film to make awesome family movies; she even made her own Aboriginal Didgeridoo.
Travels were always on the agenda. The family trip to the Wisconsin Dells is remembered infamously as the time Kaye dyed Jack's hair JET BLACK. Dye dripped down white shower curtains, staining white towels AND most notably, Jack's forehead. He couldn't wait to go back to work to endure the anticipated ribbing. Adventures never ceased. Sprig (Jack's nick-name) happily, but uncomfortably, accompanied her to Native American Pow Wows. On their National Park foray out west he got stuck in a narrow canyon crevice that she insisted they walk through just as a torrential downpour and subsequent water run-off threatened their lives.
Sadly, Jack passed December 30, 2009. Kaye soldiered on through her heartache, supported by family and grateful for the close friendships of her Bridge Club ladies. In her solitude, however, this song spoke to her...and for her:
One More Day by Diamond Rio
Kaye will be laid to rest beside her husband at Fort Custer National Cemetery in Augusta, MI. A small private ceremony will take place. Kaye had written a very special Haiku for Jack's grave marker. With a twinkle in her eye, she pre-selected two epitaphs she liked for herself when the day came:
1. I knew if I stayed around long enough, something like this would happen
2. Pardon me for not getting up
Fairly recently, after surgery for her broken hip, Kaye had a vivid dream. She and Jack went to a glorious fair. It was so amazing. There they saw all the people they had known and adored that are no longer "around". That dream spoke to this poem that Kaye liked:
I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then, someone at my side says, "There, she is gone."
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me -- not in her.
And, just at the moment when someone says, "There, she is gone,"
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"
And that is dying...
We are sincerely grateful for the caring and compassion of the wonderful staff at Milestone Senior Living and Agrace Hospice. Kaye felt content and at home. Random acts of kindness are echoed through eternity. Thank you, all of you, for loving her.
In lieu of flowers, Kaye would most appreciate an act of human kindness to another in need of a generous spirit. If you would like to share a favorite memory or photograph of Kaye, or leave a condolence for her family, you may do so on her Tributes page using the tabs above.
17950 148th Avenue
Spring Lake, MI 49456
5712 Pembroke Drive
Fitchburg, WI 53711
Go Now in Peace--Joyce Eilers