1952 – 2013

WELD — William O’Reilly “Willy” Kay (aka “Woody”), born March 24, 1952, in Wakefield, R.I., came of age in the old fishing village of Freeport, on the south shore of Long Island, N.Y.

In high school he excelled on the rifle team, was a respected flagpole swinger and was considered by many to be a living highlight reel. Throughout his life, he sure enjoyed a good time.

Raised in a working class musical family in suburban New York, he was an accomplished guitarist, composer and piano and harmonica player, a talent he used for many years to enchant audiences as well as make a living in the many places he traveled to and lived: New York, New London, Conn., Boulder and Ft. Collins, Colo. and ultimately to his beloved Weld, where he passed away on Oct. 11.

Widely respected as a storyteller’s storyteller and a living encyclopedia of jokes and poems, Willy would inevitably spread a smile across any gathering. Joking, playing music and telling stories with enthusiasm and passion were vivid talents of a man who loved hard and loved strongly.

Following his lifelong affection for nature — and trees in particular — he gained a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from Colorado State University in Ft. Collins. He continued to work as a consulting arborist and tree surgeon even climbing some of his sister, Eileen’s trees just 10 weeks before his death.

Willy was an avowed, exuberant bachelor until he met Jean, the love of his life and she was good for him. The devotion he gave in helping her pass only six months ago was true love. They spent their years together working on their 200-year-old farmstead, “Regenesis,” which was to be a B&B and respite center for cancer survivors.

To any who knew him Willy was a bright star, an amazing storyteller, musician, farmer, builder and a dear friend who will always be missed.

Willy is survived by his sister, Eileen Kay of Boulder, Colo.; brothers, Peter Harrington Kay of Roxboro, N.C. and Oliver Benn Kay of Oakland, Calif. He leaves two stepsons and their families along with four nephews and dozens of close relatives.

Special thanks go out to the many local Weld area friends and neighbors as well as the staff of the Androscoggin Home Care and Hospice House in Auburn, who did so much for both Willy and his wife, Jean, at the end of their lives.

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