Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Small Woman Leaves a Large Shadow

When Kay Smart passed away January 24, the village of Gratiot reeled.

No one could imagine Gratiot without Kay.

For years, Kay was the caretaker of Gratiot’s children.

Kay, aged 60, lived her entire life in Gratiot and never married. That, however, didn’t mean that she had no children. Kay was a caretaker for the village children for the last 40 years. She put children on buses and got them off busses. She made scores of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. She pushed babies in strollers to the post office and back. She was there for the children of Gratiot for snow days, 2 hour delays, summer vacations and emergencies.

A Gratiot icon, Kay went to the post office every day, and picked up the mail for several residents of her block. Her tiny figure moved up and down the street, chatting to everyone, and usually declining a ride – she preferred to walk. Kay was a tiny woman, 4 foot 10 and 80 pounds, in many cases smaller than the children she cared for. But her disposition was so sunny, and her attitude so bright that she seemed larger than life.

Villagers estimate that Kay had a hand in raising over 50 of the children of Gratiot. They have ranged from West M athletes and valedictorians, to a priest now practicing in Rome.

She will be missed.
by Cassie Ridenour

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