Kay Withrow Thomson, July 18, 1943–January 16, 2014

Kay Withrow Thomson

Kay Withrow Thomson

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.


5 thoughts on “Kay Withrow Thomson, July 18, 1943–January 16, 2014

  1. I am so sorry to read this news, and my heart goes out to Kay’s family, along with loads of love and prayers. I have a memory of her helping with PIRATES rehearsals ca. 1990 (when Eben was one of the Major General’s wards)– her rich voice and even richer laughter and merry spirits.

  2. I am deeply saddened and sorry about the news of Kay’s passing. I didn’t really know her as a camper, but I got to know her as a visitor. She was really nice. She also helped out with Gilbert&Sullivan Rehearsals and performances. I send my most deepest and dearest condolences to her family.

  3. I am sad to hear of Kay’s passing. I absolutely remember Kay standing by the piano singing with her strong voice as Scott led the charge. Always so sweet with her delicate English accent.
    She will be missed, but lives on in those whose hearts she graced.

  4. I am sad to hear that Kay is no longer with us. Her excitement for life is a memory for ours. Her voice was clear and loud and announced each moment as was struggled through final G&S rehearsal. My strephon, my Lucy, my various characters at the G&S performances were encouraged by her. I believe it is fate that I see this now, the day before I take my kids to compete at Destination Imagination tomorrow. As I give them their motivational speech for their performance tomorrow morning, she will be in my heart and mind.

    • Hi Christian,

      I remember getting you on the bus in NYC Jun 1987 or was it somewhere in Vt? Can’t remember. Don’t think they do the bus thing anymore. Your Strephon was awesome, as was Larry’s Mountararat, Eric’s Phyllis, Rob’s Queen of the Fairies, Jon’s Ceilia, and Oliver’s Iolanthe. Scott’s direction and accompaniment was awesome. But behind the scenes and making all the difference was Kay Withrow. God rest her.

      Michael McGuire

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