Obituary for Kay Witham
Kay Maxine Johnson Witham, beloved Wife, Mother, Nana, Aunt, and Friend, passed away May 16th, in her Polson home, surrounded by her family after a courageous yearlong battle with leukemia. Kay was born December 11, 1933 at Hotel Dieu (now St. Joseph’s) Hospital in Polson to H. Irving Johnson and Ethel Mallory Johnson.
She is survived by husband Ted, son Jeff (Randi), daughter Mallory, and Granddaughters, Crystal (Cash) Rebecca, Devon and Cierra, and many nieces, nephews and cousins. She was preceded in death by her parents, her brothers Richard and Keith Johnson, and her mother-in-law Caroline Witham.
She was a 1951 graduate of Polson High School, and later enjoyed helping plan reunions. Kay graduated from Cottey College in 1953, and graduated from the School of Bank Marketing at the University of Colorado. She also obtained a real estate license in the state of Illinois.
Kay began her career at the Security State Bank in Polson, founded by Kay’s Paternal Grandfather and his business partner in 1910. At the bank, she met her future husband Ted.
Ted and Kay were married on September 5th, 1959, and Ted’s career took them to Helena, where Kay worked for the Union Bank, and later to Chicago, where Kay worked for First National Bank of Mount Prospect. Later Kay was employed by Norwood Bank and Cole Taylor Bank Group where she was Director of Marketing. She helped implement one of the first ATM systems in the Chicago area, known as Cash Station. She was also a Director of the Northern Illinois Chapter of the Bank Marketing Association.
Kay was eclectic in her interests and activities. Kay enjoyed activities such as hunting, fishing, garnet collecting, hiking, photography, and backpacking. She was also a member of the Brazilian Embroidery Association, and developed a high level of skill in that unique and beautiful craft. At her winter residence in Arizona, she taught classes in embroidery for many years. She was a friendly visitor at Cooney Nursing Home, and she was a reader for talking books for the blind. She was involved with the Girl Scouts, PTA, and Hersey High School Instrumental Association; her other volunteer activities included answering phones during PBS fundraisers, volunteering at Cook County Hospital, and Relay for Life. Kay was an active member of Polson Community Church, and Montana Association for the Blind.
During her 25 years in Chicago, Kay enjoyed the Chicago Symphony, the Field Museum, Ravinia Music Series, the Chicago Art Institute, and many of the other cultural opportunities of the big city.
Kay and Ted dreamed of returning to Montana after retirement. Together, Kay and Ted loved to travel and cruise. Trips included Alaska, with a memorable 6 week R.V. trip with Brother Keith, and sister in law Blanche, their grandson Erik, and her granddaughters, Crystal and Rebecca. Other adventures and cruises to Alaska, Mexico, Hawaii, and Europe provided lasting memories.
Back in Polson, Kay was involved with the “Out to Lunch Bunch” with her lifelong best friend, Ardell Hern and their other dear friends. Kay was also active in South Shore Garden Club, Polson Book Club, Priscila Study Club, and P.E.O., Chapter CA. Kay was a member of P.E.O. for over 63 years in all of the communities in which she lived.
Services will be held Saturday June 17, 2017 at 11:00 AM at Polson Community Church, 1814 1st St East, Polson. A reception will follow services in the hall of the church.
The family would like to thank the wonderful and compassionate care givers that helped this last year: Dr. Linda Ries, Dr. Ryan Ross, and Wade Shipley, PA., Kelly Bagnell, and Lesa Sackett-Stephens RN with Hospice.
Kay will be remembered by her family and friends as a lady, for her caring nature, her graciousness, her kindness and sense of humor. Her many friends have reminded us of her unwavering friendship, accepting nature, her willingness to mentor, and her nonjudgmental nature. She was uncomplaining and always had a smile. The Big Sky is a little smaller without her presence.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks you send donations to Montana Association for the Blind, Cheerful Hearts, Relay for Life or Mission Valley Christian Academy.