Long-time CJ columnist Kay, who pioneered cutting-edge features and loved lavender, is dead at 87

Joan Wood Kay’s “Speaking of People” column helped turn the traditional society and women’s pages into an “issue-oriented features section that was nationally admired,” said retired Courier-Journal editorial page editor Keith Runyon. Kay worked for the paper for 34 years, ending in 1987. She died Sunday at 87, the CJ said this morning.

Speaking of People ad
Kay at her typewriter in 1969.

In a 1969 advertisement, the paper told readers Kay’s column was the “up-to-the-minute and very much ‘with it’ successor” to the paper’s old social notes stories — like this one from Aug. 5, 1917:

“Little Miss Virginia Gray Montgomery was honored with a party Wednesday afternoon when her grandmother, Mrs. James W. Montgomery, asked the future belles and beaux to an al fresco affair which she gave at her home on Shelby Street. The children presented a lovely sight in their dainty white dresses  with varicolored ribbons on bobbed heads. . . . The large galleries were festooned with ropings of red, white and blue, and flags were hung in the pergola. Toy balloons and baskets of candies were the favors given.”

Writing this morning about Kay, another long-time CJ correspondent, Sheldon S. Shafer, said: “Kay had a keen appreciation of art, especially impressionist and modern, and she was an avid reader of mysteries and newspapers. She was skilled at needlepoint and knitting, and was a world traveler who wrote humorous poems and limericks for friends. She also acquired a vast collection of teddy bears. She spoke Italian and French and was always fashionably dressed — often in her favorite color, lavender.”

Herman Meyer & Son Funeral Home is handling final arrangements.

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