Cover photo for Kay C. Spade's Obituary
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1939 Kay 2023

Kay C. Spade

March 23, 1939 — March 9, 2023

Portage

Kay Cook Spade died March 9th, 2023, during her 84th journey around the sun. She leaves proof of her existence in the memories of those she loved – her husband, children and grandchildren, brother and brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews, her many friends and students. She will live on in those memories.

Kay was born in 1939 to Howard and Elsie (née Lampi) Cook of Highland Park, Michigan, and graduated valedictorian from Highland High School.   She attended Western Michigan University where she was active in student government and met her future husband, Jerry, on a blind date.  1961 was a banner year for Kay: she graduated from Western with honors; was engaged and married; and began teaching at Portage North Junior High School.  Kay stepped back from full-time teaching in 1965 to be a full-time mom for two sons … while frequently substitute teaching across Kalamazoo ISD; earning a master’s degree in education; and actively participating in the women’s liberation movement.

Kay and Jerry were charter members (1963) at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.  Kay served on multiple committees, helping develop the church’s educational program, and served as a church council member, becoming the first female president of the council.  She returned to full-time teaching in 1977 at Vicksburg High School, where she taught English; established the school Latin program; founded and served as coach of the Bulldogs Forensics Team.  Kay loved to teach, mentor, and motivate students.  Elena Antropyanskaya, a Russian exchange student at Vicksburg High, was one of those inspired to follow Kay into teaching.  Years later, she invited Kay to guest-teach a class of Russian students via Zoom video conferencing. After retiring in 1989, Kay increased her involvement in social issues and volunteer work. She was very active in service and fellowship at the People's Church, Kalamazoo, and for ten years was a mentor/tutor and teaching assistant at Lincoln International Studies School, Kalamazoo Public Schools.

Kay loved to travel.  She toured 45 of the United States (most as part of camping trips), most of Western Europe, Scandinavia, Australia and New Zealand, China and Tibet, and spent a month touring Russia with Elena.  An original member of the Four-For-Ever book club, she thrived on books and learning, enrolling in college courses and conducting self-studies of theology, philosophy, art, and sociology.  She loved summers at the family cottage in South Haven, where she and Jerry created a second home for their constantly moving Army-brat grandchildren.  She began a lifetime fascination with movies during childhood Saturday matinees and the Academy Awards were her annual “Superbowl.”  Always ensuring that the family sat down together for dinner, Kay was famous for her pies and Finnish pasties.

Kay is survived by her husband Jerry, sons Jayson (Lucy) and Shaun, loving daughter Mary, grandchildren Rachel and Rebecca, and her brother John (Ruth Ann) Cook.  She was preceded in death by her parents, Howard and Elsie Cook; brothers Ross (Eva) Crowley, Donald (Peg) Crowley, and Tom Cook.

Kay was a life-long educator – a teacher, mentor, and counselor – while simultaneously a true student of life, constantly eager to learn and grow.  She was always seeking answers but was learning to live the questions.

We gather to honor Kay’s memory on March 18, 2023, at Langeland Family Funeral Homes Burial & Cremation Services, 3926 South 9th Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan.  Visitation will begin at 10:30 am followed by a memorial service at 12:00 pm. Following services, a luncheon will be held.  In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Al-Van Humane Society of South Haven, Michigan, or Planned Parenthood.

How astonishing to win the lottery of life!

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Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Saturday, March 18, 2023

10:30am - 12:00 pm (Eastern time)

Langeland Family Funeral Home Burial & Cremation Services

3926 South 9th Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49009

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Celebration of Life - Memorial Service

Saturday, March 18, 2023

12:00 - 1:00 pm (Eastern time)

Langeland Family Funeral Home Burial & Cremation Services

3926 South 9th Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49009

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Reception

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Langeland Family Funeral Home Burial & Cremation Services

3926 South 9th Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49009

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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