Offered by Cathie Severance; Researched by the UUMA
UURMaPA Conference, February and October, 2019
Kay Greenleaf was born on December 23, 1939 in Orlando, FL to parents Richard and Helen. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Education from Indiana’s Ball State University in 1962, following which she worked in many fields including high school drama, criminology, and social work. Later in life, after experiencing a call to ministry, Kay earned her Master of Divinity in 1996 from Methodist Theological School in Ohio.
She was ordained on April 20, 1997 by the First UU Church of Columbus, OH. She served for a year as consulting minister to the UU Fellowship of Morgantown, WV, following which she served the UU Congregation East in Reynoldsburg, OH until late 1998. She was then called to the UU Fellowship of Poughkeepsie, NY, where she served until her retirement in 2009. The Poughkeepsie fellowship later elected Kay their Minister Emerita.
Kay was active in the denomination, belonging to the Ohio-Meadville Chapter of the UU Ministers’ Association, the Ministerial Sisterhood, and UU Revival, among other organizations. Prior to her ordination, Kay performed much supply preaching at UU congregations, and served on many congregational boards and committees — especially at First UU Columbus, where she was always eager to share her wisdom and lend a hand.
Social justice was one of Kay’s great passions throughout her life. She was a staunch advocate for adequate welfare and health care systems, and most especially for civil rights — especially for people of color and LGBT people. In 2004, after the Mayor of New Paltz, NY was prohibited from performing same-sex marriages, Kay volunteered to continue the marriages. She enlisted UU ministers and clergy from other denominations to help marry about 100 same-sex couples over the next several months; she and a UU colleague were arrested for this work and the charges were eventually dismissed. Kay once wrote, “Ending racism, sexism, heterosexism, and ableism is critical to making the world spiritually richer and more humane.”
Kay loved language and words. She began writing as a child and continued writing poetry, short stories, and sermons — though she never published. She carried a note pad with her, ready to write when she saw something that touched her. Kay also enjoyed raising, training, and showing dogs; collecting works of art; nature and wildlife photography; folk, classical, and opera music; and birding.
Kay died January 19, 2018, survived by her wife of 31 years, Pat Sullivan, and their beloved pets. Pat says of her: “Kay took people at face value and always saw the good in them.”