Garlic Mustard Pull
Saturday, May 11, 2019
10:00 AM to 12:00 PM EDT
4205 Lake Terrace Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
All are welcome to participate in a garlic mustard pull at Parkview Hills. Kay was a passionate gardener and was active in caring for the native plants in Parkview Hills’ Prairie Garden. Presently, she was recruiting teams to remove garlic mustard, an invasive species. Gather at 4205 Lake Terrace Drive, Kalamazoo.
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor
220 East State Street, Floor G
Rockford, IL 61104
Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy
8395 East Main Street
Galesburg, MI 49053
Life Story / Obituary
Kathryn (Kay) Ann Thorson Caskey, born August 15, 1942, passed away suddenly on May 5, 2019 while running the 40th Borgess 10k. She was preceded in death by her sister, Mary Ellen Machan, brother-in-law Wayne and her parents. Kay is survived by her partner Laurie Young, sons Michael (Meghann) and William (Cori), stepdaughter Whitney Grant (Brock), brother Ronnie, niece Cheryl Anderson, nephew Warren Machan, and grandchildren Rachael, Deven and Finn.
Kay earned a Bachelor’s of English Literature from the University of Wisconsin and a Master’s of Social Work from the University of Chicago. She worked at Cass County Mental Health and retired as a school social worker from Lewis Cass Intermediate School District. Kay helped create Cass County Hospice, the first to serve that county. She was also a founding member of the Friends of the Van Buren District Library.
In 1977, Kay read an article in the Saturday Review of Literature magazine by Norman Cousins about using laughter to recover from a life-threatening illness. She spent a year traveling the country interviewing experts on the subject, and formed a company with Laurie Young called Laughter Works. Laughter Works used laughter, play, and a positive attitude to discover the bright side of life and teach holistic approaches to stress management. Kay and Laurie were best known for teaching people how to juggle. Already a runner in the 1980s, Kay had learned to juggle and became a competitive joggler - running and juggling at the same time. She earned over ten gold medals and won two world championships in international joggling competitions. Kay taught over 100,000 people how to juggle.
For many years Kay co-taught Health and Humor and Holistic Approaches to Successful Aging for the Integrative Holistic Health and Wellness program at Western Michigan University. She received an Outstanding Alumni award in 2010 from the university and in 2018 was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor.
Kay loved to travel. She visited over 50 countries always appreciating other cultures and traditions. She enjoyed volunteering for a refugee family from Syria and helping them adjust to life in Kalamazoo. She liked it best when she could combine her interest in travel with hiking. She summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Fuji, and Mt. Kinabalu, among others, and spent 17 days trekking to Mt. Everest Base Camp. Her favorite place on Earth was the Grand Canyon where, on two separate occasions, she hiked from rim to rim in one day.
Kay was a passionate gardener and was active in caring for the native plants in Parkview Hills’ Prairie Garden. Presently, she was recruiting teams to remove garlic mustard, an invasive species. Kay loved that Monarch butterflies migrate all the way to Mexico and was thrilled to visit their home in the mountains of Central Mexico several years ago. Last year she became a citizen scientist monitoring, counting and reporting the Monarch’s metamorphosis from egg to butterfly.
Kay was a wonderful mother, grandmother and friend, sending rays of sunshine wherever she went. She died doing what she loved most, running.
All are welcome to participate in a garlic mustard pull at Parkview Hills on Saturday, May 11th, from 10am to 12pm. Gather at 4205 Lake Terrace Drive, Kalamazoo. A memorial service and visitation will follow at 1pm at First Congregational Church, 345 W Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo. Please visit Kay’s personal memory page at www.BetzlerFuneralHome.com where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her guestbook. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, AATH.org (220 East State Street, Floor G, Rockford, IL 61104) or Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy, swmlc.org (8395 East Main St, Galesburg, MI 49053). Arrangements by Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr. Kalamazoo, MI 49009, (269) 375-2900.