Kay McMillan Outstanding Woman


Clinton County lost an Outstanding Woman last week. Kay McMillan of Cape May and late of the family farm on Gurneyville Road, died quietly at the age of 89 at Christ Hospital, Cincinnati, after a brief illness.

One could use many words to describe Kay. She was a supportive wife; a loving mother who cared deeply about her three lovely daughters; Mary Kay, Jennifer, and Karen; and a friend who would sit with friends for hours when their hearts were heavy and full.

The word that described Kay best is grace. She was a bright, articulate and educated woman.

She could pick up the phone and call the Governor’s Office, and a few minutes later the governor would be on the line. She knew many Ohio governors on a first-name basis, as well as, the names of the staff at the mansion the names of their children and their grandchildren.

She was equally at ease in the White House, as she was when she visited President Ronald Reagan in 1982.

Kay was the wife of Tom McMillan, a man who loved politics. Kay was, in fact, the consummate politician’s wife.

She was extraordinarily kind, and could delicately shift the topic when the conversation became too passionate. She might steer the topic to the children’s 4-H project, or the new doctor at her beloved Clinton Memorial Hospital. In moments of grace, she always seemed to say the right thing at the right time.

Kay was politically savvy at a time when politics were kinder and gentler, although no less competitive. She had a very accurate, well, political meter, and didn’t buy the snake oil some were selling.

Kay could sum up a politician’s speech so candidly that we often left the meeting with a laugh, and a renewed appreciation for her common sense.

As the veteran politicians liked to say at the gallant old Neil House in Columbus, “Kay wasn’t a glass of milk.”

According to her obituary, Kay was instrumental in forming and chairing a committee of community leaders to investigate the possibility of building a continuing care retirement community in Wilmington. After continued effort by the committee, Cape May was built.

We know what Kay did for this community, and we appreciate all her work in making Cape May become a reality, when some said it could never be done. The Outstanding Woman of Clinton County Committee agreed, and recognized her efforts in 2008.

Years ago, the telephone rang in the Sheriff’s Office. “Sheriff, do you have a few minutes to talk?” she asked me.

“I sure do, Kay,” I replied. “I will stop out to see you within the next hour.”

I arrived at the McMillans’ home, and after a tour and brief history of the farm, she told me about a concern she was having with a property in Dayton. After listening for awhile, I suggested a course of action that hopefully would resolve the situation.

Kay never forgot my simple advice, and as recently as last month when I was visiting my brother Jim at Cape May, she thanked me again for helping her with the problem. Her focus was always on others.

We watched retirement at Cape May bring Kay some of the best times of her life. It also brought a host of physical challenges for her, but she seemed to be very much at peace with life. She was content. She was happy.

As times passes and the tears dry, we will realize Kay’s life was one well lived. She touched us in that place within our soul that bears remembrance.

Schiller said, “What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”

Clinton County is better for her life, and her work.

But from now on, when a family walks through the doors of Cape May, or a loved one is given precious medical care, or a joke is told around the dining room table near the activity center, Kay McMillan’s legacy will live, and it will live for generations to come.

Kay’s memory will never pass. May she rest in the sleep of peace.

Pat Haley is a Clinton County Commissioner.

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Pat Haley

Contributing columnist