It is with a great sense of loss that we pass along word that Kay Withrow Thomson has died. Kay was a uniquely vibrant member of our summer community from 1978 through 1992, as the wife of Music Director Scott Withrow and the mother of Grant Wilkinson and Nikki Wilkinson Tropeano. Kay’s contributions to the spirit and welfare of Pemi were legion. They were highlighted not only by her stellar vocal performances at Sunday meetings and in our Gilbert and Sullivan operettas but also, just as irreplaceably, by a buoyant, witty, and energetic disposition that brightened the day for everyone she encountered. If the Pemi Kid were to have a grown-up female counterpart – cheerful, tireless, always functioning at top speed, bringing heart, generosity, and commitment to every activity from belting out the camp songs to cheering on the boys out on the soccer pitch – it would be Kay.
Kay’s professional accomplishments are too many to enumerate here, but her resume gives ample testimony that she brought to her “off-seasons” the same dynamism and engagement she brought to her summers with us. Given Pemi’s long and vital association with Oberlin College, it is significant to note that, following Scott Withrow’s death and Kay’s subsequent marriage to Haskell Thomson, Kay joined the Oberlin administration, ultimately serving as Vice President for Development and Alumni Affairs. In retirement, Kay and Haskell moved to Massachusetts, but Kay’s lifelong commitment to education and service led to her becoming a founding Trustee of Antioch University New England.
Kay was born in Derby, England, on July 18, 1943. Those of us who are Anglophiles are, among all the things that endeared Kay to us, particularly delighted that she never lost her charming native accent – that or the irrepressible spirit that brought her country through the global conflict she was born into the midst of. She left us on January 16, 2014, after a prolonged illness, at home and surrounded by her family. Memorial contributions are welcome and should be mailed to VNA Hospice, 434 Route 134, Suite D-3, South Dennis, MA 02660 OR memorials to St. Christopher’s Church, 625 Main Street, Chatham, MA 02633.
To draw on the words of an old Pemigewassett salute, often alluded to at times such as this, Kay’s battle is over; may she wear her much-deserved crown with all of the dignity, beauty, graciousness, and verve that she brought to every day of her life.
~ Tom Reed, Jr.