Remembering Lori Kay
“If we have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” - Isaac Newton
Many pioneers have preceded us in their efforts to advocate for children as well as to provide
appropriate and systemic programs for gifted and talented youth. We lost one of those pioneers when
Lori Kay passed away on October 17, 2020.
Lori’s efforts on behalf of her three children started when they were preschoolers. Lori helped start the
Oregon Cooperative Preschool with Donna Mahr, another pioneer in the effort to advocate for gifted
and talented children.
Linda Uttech served as the Gifted Coordinator in the Oregon School District when Heidi, Erik, and Kietra
Kay were in school more than three decades ago now. Linda remembers that Lori was always
enthusiastic and eagerly contributed to gifted programming in Oregon and beyond. As a member of the G/T Advisory Committee, Lori fostered accelerated math courses, distance learning, and Advanced
Lori and her husband, Arlan, have always been partners in improving the school and the community.
Together they helped to launch Olympics of the Mind, now known as Odyssey of the Mind. Erik and
Kietra were some of the first participants along with their friends. Kietra was one of the first students in
Oregon to take advantage of Dual Enrollment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Lori Kay was on board in 1972 when parent advocates founded the Wisconsin Council for the Gifted and
Talented (WCGT). She held many positions on the Board of Directors, including President-Elect,
President, and Past President from 1988-1991. Previously, she had served as Chair of the Legal and
Legislative Committee from 1985-1988 during the crucial years when WCGT was advocating for the
addition of Standard (t) to the Statutes and Rules for Gifted Education in Wisconsin.
Lori’s dedication to the cause of gifted and talented youth was exemplary and extraordinary. Nothing
could stand in the way of her efforts. Carol Wright recalls that the Board of Directors had scheduled a
planning retreat for a weekend in February of 1990. We were going to meet in a dormitory at a Stevens
Point campground, and Wisconsin had just received a record snowfall. Lori called Carol on Friday
afternoon and said she was going to attend the retreat even though she was suffering from an attack of
appendicitis. Carol had all she could do to convince Lori that her surgery could not wait and that she as
President-Elect could handle the Board meeting. The Board of Directors did have a good time at the
retreat, but we did not accomplish as much as we would have if Lori had been there.
Lori, we shall miss your altruism, your energy, your imagination, your optimism, and your uniqueness.
We owe you an unending debt of gratitude.
Submitted by Carol Wright (WCGT President 1990-91) and Linda Uttech (WATG Board Member late 1990's-early 2000's) and Ruth Robinson (WATG President 2003-04)