Remembrance of the Life of Sister Kay (formerly Sister Josita) DeMarea SL
Loretto Sister Kay (formerly Sister Josita) DeMarea died June 8 in the Loretto Living Center at Loretto Motherhouse, in the 75th year of her Loretto commitment.
Kay DeMarea was born in Kansas City, Mo., the younger daughter of Joseph and Katherine De Marea. With her sister Barbara, Kay attended Saint Vincent School and Loretto Academy on 39th St. She entered the Loretto Community straight from Grant High School and at reception took the name Josita in honor of her father Joseph. Kay’s long career as a creative and distinguished educator, her many contributions to schools, parishes, and community civic life have been listed in various obituaries.
Kay herself was a wonderful documentarian of her own life. For instance, she created a very large binder of the names and other information about every student she ever taught. She collected and delivered to the Loretto Archives a complete set of Ward books, including both student and teacher editions. Her personnel file contains several essays she composed about significant times in her life. Here is an essay she left us about her 15 years in Milledgeville, Ga.:
“In September of 1976 I arrived in Milledgeville, Ga., to become an associate professor in the Special Education Department at Georgia College. Sister Ann William accompanied me from St. Louis and together with Molly Cat settled me into a new experience. I had just completed my doctorate at St. Louis University in special education, and this opportunity seemed to present itself just at the ‘right’ time for me.
“Upon coming to Georgia there were times when I honestly thought I was having a Third World Experience. I had made the acquaintance of the department chairperson when I was interviewed and had met a family from St. Louis who had also come to work in the Education Center; these were the only people I had actually seen. I was in a strange new town, knew where none of the roads and streets led, could get little if any news and information from the ‘outside’ because I wasn’t hooked up to the TV cable. The local paper came out only once a week; the newsstands carried little from Macon and Atlanta; and the local radio station was beyond explanation! To say the least, I wondered if I had buried myself!
“But I liked the house and the location, a mile from the center of town; (it) afforded the peace that I wanted. I was across from an open field with lots of cows as well as across from a small fruit orchard. It was a neighborhood with lots of nice people and only five minutes from the church.
“During my entire working life, 1951 through 2009, I’ve done parish work — with children, youth and adult catechetics, choirs, congregational singing and ministry to the homebound, those in hospitals and nursing homes.
“My parish work in Milledgeville prior to 1985 was difficult in that a lot was done in spite of the clerical problem. What we tried to do, basically, was to keep a remnant alive for the day that would come. It was a terribly painful existence, but there was no doubt in my mind whatsoever as to why I was staying there: I truly believe we are in the right place at the right time, for the sake of the Kingdom, and that was more obvious than ever when, in June of 1985 our day came! We were sent a young Irish priest who had lots of energy. Finally, I felt the Spirit moving me and touching others through me. I could honestly say, I am alive in this place and I can live out my commitment to its fullest.”
We found another quite different essay in Kay’s files, a composition entitled “My Story” that cleverly tells the story of her life journey from the point of view of a piece of furniture she carried with her:
“As closely as I have been traced, to date, this story needs to start around the late summer of 1966. Just how I got started and where I came from, I guess I’ll never know. I do know, however, that prior to that date I was part of the décor in one of the parlors of Webster College. You see, I’m just a ‘coffee table.’ But as you also see, I am very beautiful. My inlaid leather top and my carved wood helps me to be so special. That summer, though, some changes came along at Webster, and the parlors were being dismantled. Renovations that would result in offices were taking place, and much of the furniture was moved into storage. That is where I stayed for a while.
“In late August or early September of 1966, there were three sisters looking for some furniture to set up a home, in a house, on Edgar Road. Sisters Carl Ann Herman, Anita Schader and Kay DeMarea found me and took me to their new house. I really liked it there, and I added much to their living room. I stayed there for a year.
“In the summer of 1967, some changes were in the offing. Sister Carl Ann moved to Santa Fe. Anita went home to Colorado, and Kay moved to a college house on Garden Avenue. I went with Kay and helped her set up a small reading area in that basement. There I stayed where I appreciated the comfortable space and those who relaxed in my presence. Then, it happened again.
“The latter part of the summer of 1969 Kay moved to an apartment in Brentwood, and I went with her. We set up housekeeping in a townhouse, and I adorned the living/dining area room. I was happy there and was a big help as I could hold books, magazines and newspapers that were being read. During the next seven years Kay was teaching, going to school, studying, and eventually writing her dissertation for her degree from St. Louis University. We had company off and on, and those who saw me always remarked as how I was such a lovely piece of furniture. I was so proud.
“Eventually, Kay was given the opportunity to move to Georgia to live and teach. Now, of course, I went with her, and for 14 years I had a special spot in her living room. Kay taught in the college, in Milledgeville, for four years. In 1980 she started a tutorial business, and I saw the many students come and go. Kay’s mother, Katy, came to live with us for the next 10 years, and she was a real joy to have with us. Lots of things happened in Georgia, and I liked it there. One special experience every year, from January through May, was having the 7-year-old children at our house every Saturday morning as they prepared for their First Communion. That was fun, just as all the other visitors were who came and went. As always, many were impressed with my beauty.
“Finally, I came to Kentucky in 1990. Katy had died, and Kay left Georgia and settled for the next 21 years in Lebanon. We had a nice house, and Kay was busy with activities in the town with the Leadership and Habitat programs. Eventually she worked with the Loretto Child Care Center, too. She was often at the Motherhouse and was involved in the Liturgy, various committees and the Coordinating Board. Later she worked with the pastoral program for the Infirmary. As before, my job was to hold the reading materials and to look elegant. I always did my jobs well!
“Our life was good there, and we stayed until June 2009. It was then that Kay decided to move to Bardstown, and since she didn’t need my services any longer, I came to the Loretto Motherhouse Archives where I have been enjoying the opportunity to, once again, look elegant in a Loretto environment.”
Sister Kay’s cremains were buried at Loretto Motherhouse.
Please keep Kay, her family and all her loved ones in your prayers. May she rest in peace.