An avid fly fisherman and “fisher of men,” Robert (Bob) Francis Kay died peacefully at home, surrounded by family on Friday, February 17, 2023. He suffered courageously from Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis for 13 years before his lungs succumbed to its ravages. Born on June 6, 1936, in Calgary, Alberta, he was the much-loved only child of Helen Louise McDougall and Francis (Frank) Victor Kay. He is survived by his beloved wife of 64 years, Lorna Margaret (née Haigh), daughters Lynn (Patrick McHugh), Roanoke, VA, Susan (George E. Matelich), Larchmont, NY, and Janet (Bob Atkinson), Mississauga, ON; grandchildren Keith McHugh (Mary, son Jack), Charlotte, NC, Kate (Adam Scolatti, son Graham) Portland, OR, Wesley Matelich (Kirsten, daughter in utero), Centennial, CO, Grace (Adam Pate), Boulder, CO, George R. Matelich (Anne Flanigan), San Francisco, CA, Sabrina and Megan Gelmo, Mississauga, ON. Bob delighted in his family and counted his blessings regularly despite pain and loss of mobility. A consummate gentleman and benevolent presence, he touched many lives through the simple practice of showing kindness and interest: he learned names, asked questions, and remembered details about the lives of all he encountered. Mentoring others was a pleasurable avocation; holding court and trading zingers a delight. When he erred, he was brave enough for self-examination and made amends.
As a young man, Bob was an indifferent student, being much more interested in fishing, hunting, and covering his paper route than schoolwork or organized sports. By the time he graduated high school, he was a District Circulation Manager for the Calgary Herald. Bob’s father Frank served in the Royal Canadian Air Force as an accountant in WWII and had stayed active in the RCAF Reserve. He felt that Air Force training would be good for Bob and he was correct. Bob took to it like a duck to water and was inspired by both the pilot (he soloed in a Harvard) and leadership training he received. He recalled that his Air Force training taught him how to manage himself and to assume his rank. For him, this experience was formative and took the place of higher education. Inspired to study, he won the trophy for achieving highest marks in flight training and later, in RCAF Reserve, attained the rank of Flight Lieutenant.
Bob’s career in the investment business began in Calgary with Nesbitt Thomson & Co., first as Cashier, then Teller. Immediately following their wedding in June of 1958, the happy couple departed by train to Montreal. Bob reported for training and subsequently held various positions with the firm, from Retail to Trading, Administration, and then Management, in Edmonton, Toronto, and New York, often describing himself as “A Master Generalist” but described by others as having a forensic mind. A consulting assignment from the World Bank provided an exciting chapter in his family’s life, sending them all to Caracas, Venezuela for six months. Bob’s next transfer was to New York to manage the Nesbitt Thomson office. The family holds many fond memories of life in Allendale, NJ, and the friendships made there. Bob joined Midland Doherty in 1980 back in Toronto, heading their Government Finance Department. Bob successfully concluded his career as Sr. VP, Investments, for the Ontario Pension Board. Some might fondly recall shared confidences and lunch at Canoe, where an ice-cold martini may or may not have been served alongside oysters on the half shell.
Service to God, country, and community ranked highly in Bob’s life. In 1968, he trained to become a Distress Line volunteer and was active for seven years. He served several terms as Warden in churches in Montreal, Clarkson, and New Jersey, and then Senior Warden at St. Bride’s. He was proud of his service and appointment as Lay Reader by Bishop Lewis Garnsworthy. For 12 years, he served on and ultimately chaired the Investment Advisory Board of The Salvation Army, as well as that of the Public Guardian and Trustee for Ontario.
Time spent with family and friends at the family cottages, first in Red Bay, then in Mallory Beach, was precious to Bob, treasured husband, father, grandfather, and friend.
A funeral service and celebration of life will be held at the Church of St. Bride, Clarkson, on Saturday, March 4 at 1:00 pm.
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A reception will be held immediately following.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts will be joyfully received by The Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation and Church of St. Bride, Clarkson.