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John Edward Kay, of Reynoldsburg, Ohio passed away early in the morning on January 18, 2024 at the age of 78.
John was born July 27, 1945 in Charleston, West Virginia to James Edgar Kay and Lorena “Renie” Taylor Kay. He grew up in the shadow of Dunbar’s star athlete, his older brother, James Edgar Kay, Jr., who preceded him in death in 2002.
By today’s standards, his childhood seems like it was torn from the pages of Mark Twain, filled with stories of hunting and fishing in the hills of “Almost Heaven”, where he caught frogs and garter snakes to put in his lunchbox as a surprise for his unsuspecting mother. In many of these Huck Finnish stories, he was accompanied by his childhood friend, Hoehandle; a nickname that perfectly captures his proud West Virginia roots.
John was a graduate of Dunbar High School’s class of 1963, and was a frequent visitor to their many reunions. He was an avid music fan and record collector, amassing a large selection that is filled mostly with Motown era soul and southern gospel music. This passion led him to a Martha and the Vandellas concert at West Virginia State College, where he met the love of his life Linda, who made him question, “has my blood pressure got a hold on me?” (He didn’t know it at the time, but it would be a major health problem for years to come). No, Linda taught him this “is the way love’s supposed to be.” Their “Heatwave” of love led to a marriage that burned for 55 years.
John and Linda had three children together; Jason Eric, who preceded him in death in 2016, Justin Edward, of Lake Worth, Florida, and Johnna Elizabeth of Reynoldsburg. They did everything they could to mold those three together, even with their initials: JEK. Most of the discipline in that household was enforced with John’s 6 foot 4 inch stature, his thunderous shouts, and above all his domineering glare. It was a look that engendered fear and respect, not only from his children, but from all of their friends that came to visit.
No institution was more important in helping raise those children than the Reynoldsburg Church of the Nazarene, which they have been a part of for over 50 years. John was an usher and served on the board for decades, played softball on the church team and was known to live by the phrase, “If it ain’t King James, it ain’t the Bible.” That church has provided him and Linda with a large group of close friends that will miss him dearly, and many years of love and support from dozens of families.
John worked in the trucking industry for most of his adult life as a terminal manager, and although he rarely missed a day of work, he was happy to retire in 2010. He and Linda became “snowbirds” and bought a condo in Lake Worth, Florida. This second home helped them escape the cold, gray Ohio winters, and watch their grandson and his namesake, Preston John, grow up. Nothing made John more happy than watching Preston play baseball, and he went with Linda to every game they could. While in Florida his family grew in more ways than one. Laura Caruthers, of Waco, Texas and her son Sammy came back into his life through an adoption reunion. He is also survived by his son’s wife Akweita, and their son Jalen.
At the top of his other passions in life was gun collecting. He was a longtime member of the NRA, a member of several gun collecting clubs, and was also a buyer, trader, and seller at gun shows with his partner in arms, Larry Johnson.
In addition to the family already mentioned John is survived by several cousins, and many nieces and nephews.
His family will receive friends from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 20, 2024 at the Reynoldsburg Church of the Nazarene, 1636 Crest Road, Reynoldsburg, where his service will follow at 1:00 p.m.
Interment in Dunbar West Virginia will be held on Monday, January 22.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the ALS Association;https://www.als.org/get-involved/ways-give