Obituary: Kathleen Ruth Bradt

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5/5/1950 – 10/28/2022

Kathleen (Kay) Ruth Bradt, 72, of Lawrence, Kansas, died peacefully in the early morning of Friday, October 28.

The oldest of four siblings, Kay was born on May 5, 1950, in Lawrence, to Marilyn and Russell Bradt. As a child, Kay loved to read at the old Carnegie Library and knew from the time she was in junior high that she wanted to become a librarian.

She graduated from Lawrence High School in 1968, and then earned her bachelor’s degree in French and Art History from the University of Kansas, where her father was a mathematics professor, and a master’s in library science from the University of Denver.

In 1976, Kay was hired at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas, where she would work for the next four decades, helping run the library, eventually as Director of Libraries, as well as teaching and advising students.

She had a daughter, Tory, and son, Duncan, with her first husband, Allen Macfarlane. Like her parents before her, Kay instilled in her children a love of learning, curiosity, music, the outdoors, cooking, and baking.

Following her divorce, Kay married George Wiley, a Religious Studies professor at Baker who had been a longtime acquaintance. They were together for nearly 30 years, sharing a love for music, the arts, nature, travel, and British mysteries.

Kay was a lifelong member of Plymouth Congregational Church in Lawrence, where she served on the church council and history committee, taught Sunday School and confirmation classes, and as an avid gardener helped organize the plant sale. She researched Plymouth history extensively and the church’s history room was recently named in Kay’s honor. She also knitted prayer shawls.

A talented musician, Kay sang soprano in the Plymouth choir and played the cello in the church string ensemble and in a chamber music group, the Allegro ma non Troppo Players. When she could no longer play the cello, Kay gifted her beloved instrument to a musician who lost hers to theft.

To celebrate their retirements from Baker in the 2010s, Kay and George completed the 73-mile journey along Hadrian’s Wall, the centuries-old Roman ruins near the English border with Scotland. Back in Lawrence, she tended to the trees, bushes and flowers in the miniature nature preserve she cultivated out of a sinkhole in her neighborhood’s cul-de-sac.

Early in 2020, Kay was diagnosed with ALS. Even as her voice and mobility waned in the months to come, Kay’s independent spirit persevered. She was determined to keep knitting, gardening and walking as long as she could, and insisted on being at church every Sunday.

In her final days, she was surrounded by family and the caring nurses and aides of Rock Creek in Ottawa, Kansas, and Ascend Hospice.

Kay was preceded in death by her father, Russell Bradt, and is survived by her mother, Marilyn Bradt; her husband, George Wiley; her daughter, Tory Macfarlane (Chris Fickett), son, Duncan Macfarlane, and step-daughter, Joanna Wiley; her three brothers, Ralph (Dee Lyons), Chris (Dea), and Steve (Jane Patrick) Bradt; and three nephews, Ian (Josh Hollingsworth), Roscoe and Colin Bradt.

Visitation, to greet the family, is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday, November 7, 2022 with a memorial service at 11 a.m. and reception to follow at Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vermont St., Lawrence.

Kay wished to be cremated and her remains will be spread in a meadow that overlooks the mountains near her family’s cabin in Colorado, where she loved to hike, birdwatch, view wildflowers, and pick berries.

In lieu of flowers or cards, the family asks for donations in Kay’s honor to her church or the ALS Association Mid-America Chapter.

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