In Memory

Kalyn Kulikowski (Watkins)

Kalyn Kulikowski (Watkins)

Kalyn Watkins (Kay) passed away on Sunday, Nov. 9, 2008, from complications of a stroke.

Kay was a winter resident of Fountain Hills and had just arrived with her husband for the season.

She was born in Galveston, Texas on May 3, 1950, and grew up in rural Ohio, just north of Dayton. She received her B.A. in sociology from Wright State University, in Dayton, going to classes at night for seven years and working full time during the day for IBM, where she was trained as one of the first female service reps in the country for office products.

She moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1975, got married there, and continued to work for IBM. They moved to Seattle in 1980, had two daughters, and have lived on Bainbridge Island, just west across Puget Sound from Seattle, since 1989.

Kay was one of the most vibrant, joyous, full-of-life people you could ever hope to meet. She loved music and performing, and from an early age, was in both school and church choirs and theatrical productions.

In Las Vegas, she sang with Sweet Adelines, the only 20-something in a group of middle-aged women, and was selected by audition from across the country to perform with a small ensemble for two separate IBM awards conventions in Toronto and San Francisco.

As she climbed the career ladder, entering corporate sales first with SRA, a subsidiary of IBM at the time, then later with NETg corporation, she had little time for her passion of music.

Yet she still sang soprano with the Bainbridge Island Chorale for more than 17 years, eventually becoming soprano section leader and a member of the board.

She also managed to teach herself guitar during this time, and began to sing for patients at local nursing homes and convalescent centers on holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

She attracted numerous other people to join her on these sing-outs, and they became known as the Community Singers. As a member of Unity Church, she became actively involved with the youth program, teaching Sunday school, taking teenagers to two retreats a year, as well as several trips to the annual Unity World Convention in St. Joseph, Mo.

She wrote a new song for each of these youth retreats, and just at the end of October, released her first CD containing many of them called “Children of God.” And whenever there was a choir, a service, a Christmas tree lighting, or anyone else that needed singers, you would find her there with her joyous smile.

When she retired two years ago, she jumped into her music with her typical enthusiasm for life. She became a member of a select singing ensemble called Side By Side, and performed various venues around the Island with them.

She performed as a cast member in the Ovation Theater Company’s production of “Oklahoma.” She undertook a year-long study course in music healing therapy, did an internship at Harrison Hospital in Bremerton, Wash. and became a licensed music healing therapy practitioner. She felt it a blessing to sing at the bedside of dying patients, where she brought joy and release to both them and their families.

This summer, the hospital hired her to continue this valuable work. She was so looking forward to doing the same work in Arizona this winter.

Last winter was the first one she spent in Arizona, but in her typical fashion, she wasn’t here more than 48 hours before she had been invited to join the cast in the Fountain Hills Community Theater’s production of “Oklahoma.”

Later in the winter, she joined and sang with the Fountain Hills Community Chorus for their winter concert, and made many new friends, some of whom introduced her to the lively scene of karaoke bars.

This wonderful, beautiful, compassionate woman has left us far too soon and will be dearly missed by all who knew her.

She is survived by her husband Charlie, her daughters Jennifer (of Seattle) and Heather (of San Francisco), her brother Stan and her mother Virginia (of Pensacola), extended family, and more friends than can be counted.

Plans for a celebration service of her life are in the works for next May 3, her birthday, in Seattle. A small service will be held in Arizona at the Unity of Mesa Church, 2700 E. Southern Ave., Mesa, on Saturday, Nov. 29, 2008.

Published in the Fountain Hills Times November 26, 2008.