As head of the Psi Chi National Office, Kay assisted in the development of new personnel and budget policies and procedures, built the staff from three to five full-time positions, and led the organization in the first-ever purchase of a building to house Psi Chi's headquarters. Her exceptional management led to national recognition of Psi Chi by the American Society of Association Executives as the most efficient association of its size in the U.S. with a staff of only three to four members.
Paula Miller, Psi Chi Chief Operations Officer, shares her thoughts and memories of Kay in her Editor's Eyeview article on page 5 of this commemorative issue.
Psi Chi Membership Services Coordinator
Where does one begin? How do you express how much of an impression and an impact a person has made on you and your life in a few paragraphs? That is what I have asked myself several times while trying to gather all the thoughts and emotions I have about Kay Wilson. I started working with Kay at Psi Chi in October 2000. I had recently moved to Chattanooga from my hometown of Philadelphia, Mississippi, and was excited about the job. Kay quickly became a boss that I looked up to and admired.
Kay was professional and intelligent, sophisticated and warm, articulate with a good sense of humor. Kay always had great advice and suggestions to give. She had a master's degree in chemistry, but was also knowledgeable about almost everything else--politics, world events, and especially the local news. She taught me the importance of being able to speak to any one on any level and to know as much as I could about what was going on around me. I attribute my success as a professional and efficient employee to Kay's influence and guidance.
Although Kay was my boss, she was also my friend. She cared about all her employees on a personal level. As I am a divorced single mother, Kay took it upon herself to "fix me up." Kay would send me on blind lunch dates with her friends' sons. She even watched my son Wil for me one evening so I could go on one of her "set-ups." One time Kay went so far as to cut an article out of the newspaper about a single businessman here in Chattanooga and brought it to me at work. The rest of the office got a great laugh out of that. We always laughed together. Kay had a great laugh! It was a deep and sincere laugh, and I found it to be very contagious.
Another thing Kay and I shared was our love of food. After several months of working at Psi Chi, I suggested that em-ployees go to lunch for his or her birthday as a group. We all looked forward to these outings. Kay's favorite place to eat lunch was the Southern Star. She and I would always order different items (especially dessert) and then share them. Kay would often get her to-go box before she even received her food. Her goal was to put half of the meal away so she wouldn't overeat. Very few times did we make it back to the office with the to-go box.
It is so quiet in the office without her. I miss her great laugh, her awesome smile, and her generosity. I miss her sense of humor and her knowledge about life. Kay was an incredible teacher and friend, and I am going to miss her immensely throughout the rest of my life.
Caption: In the picture above and to the right, Amie Austin is pictured with her son Wil.
Psi Chi Director of Publishing
The preparation of this special commemorative issue of Eye on Psi Chi has been a particularly difficult venture for me. On the one hand, I can think of no better way for Psi Chi to honor someone as special as Kay Wilson than to allow the voices of so many of those who knew her to be heard--to build a historical marker, if you will, for her life, using as building blocks the thoughts, memories, and stories of her family, friends, and loved ones. I feel very privileged to play one of many parts in bringing this memorial to fruition.
On the other hand, I still struggle with the loss of someone with whom I worked for the past 13 years. I believe that the greater the soul of the person who dies, the greater the feeling of loss to those who knew that person. So it is with Kay--a truly great soul, filled with the qualities of one who had learned to exhibit the best of what it means to be human--love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You can read example after example in the words of the many contributors to this commemorative issue.
We have lost her presence, and all she brought to our lives with her encouraging voice, hearty laugh, and everyday thoughtfulness. But working on this issue has helped me--and I hope will help all of us--to release the lingering pain, to remember Kay, and to continue to celebrate her life long after all the pain of our loss has subsided. I don't believe someone so full of joy would have wanted us to grieve overmuch.
I will share one memory: The Psi Chi National Office used to copy and compile the entire fall chapter mailing by hand. The staff formed an assembly line, all other work was temporarily suspended, and the office became a "forms and booklets factory" for the better part of two days. The spirit that Kay brought to this task was truly remarkable. What would otherwise have been a mundane two days became--under Kay's leading--a social event, an occasion, a party. We talked, laughed, shared stories, ate together--and were unencumbered by the usual daily tasks that kept us so busy throughout the year. Kay reminded us that life is largely what you bring to it--make it what you will, enjoy it while it lasts, fill it with the best of what you have, and reach out to the people around you.
Thank you, Kay, for the way you touched my life, the way you touched all of our lives. We will always remember.
Psi Chi Information Systems Manager
Kay looks at her new grandson with a tremendous smile full of warmth and joy in the photo chosen to represent Kay on her online memorial page. I am struck by how accurately this picture represents Kay. Kay always looked to others and shared in their joys and sorrows. Whether talking to a Psi Chi member, working with our staff, or eating lunch at the Southern Star, Kay infused warmth and joy into every opportunity she had, successfully managing to be professional yet simultaneously warm and caring.
Kay would always go the proverbial extra mile with every person she spoke with on the phone or came in touch with, despite how busy she was. With all of us at the National Office, Kay never let her busy schedule stop her from listening to our requests, stories, or questions. Kay knew how to make every person she spoke with be pleased to have spoken with her. No matter was too trivial for Kay, and there was no such thing as a stupid question. Kay was an outstanding example of a caring professional.
Although Kay was a wonderful boss and excelled in managing and furthering Psi Chi, it is not for those things alone that Kay is remembered. I remember the vitality and enthusiasm that Kay brought to each day. I remember Kay's joy in her grandchildren and swapping stories about the adventures of her grandchildren and my two children. I remember and miss Kay's smile.
In my first year at Psi Chi, my wife and I experienced the pain of a miscarriage of our first child. Kay was very compassionate and graciously allowed us to spend a wonderful weekend at her mountain cabin. Having that time to heal and work through our loss in that peaceful environment is something I will always remember and be grateful to Kay for.
I remember the last time I saw Kay at her home as life rapidly became more difficult for her. I was helping move a chair for Kay, and she began to inquire how things were going at Psi Chi. Even at the most difficult time in her life, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, Kay centered not on her own welfare, but instead focused on the well-being and success of others . . . of me.
The Proverbs state, "A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold." Kay's reputation was indeed esteemed and respected far and wide. I consider it an honor and a privilege to have been a friend of Kay, and to have had the opportunity to work under her guidance.
"To-go box, please..."
"Kay infused warmth and joy into every opportunity she had..."
Taking time for some fun at the National Office, circa 1995 (from left): Carol Tracy (Psi Beta Executive Director, former Psi Chi Financial Officer), Kay Wilson (Psi Chi Executive Officer), and Dan Bockert (Psi Chi Director of Publishing).
Fall 2003 issue of Eye on Psi Chi (Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 14-15), published by Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology (Chattanooga, TN). Copyright, 2003, Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology. All rights reserved.