ForeverMissed
Death is nothing at all - I have only slipped away into the next room. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way which you always used. Laugh as we always do at little jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile, and think of me. Let my name be the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without effort. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was; there is absolutely unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of your mind because I am out of your sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well. Nothing is past; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before - only better, infinitely happier and forever.

I love you, Sean

-Anna Marie

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I love you.

Our Dad was never afraid to share his emotions. He cried, he laughed, he loved us all so much. He made me an open, free person and he is how I am getting through his death. My Dad’s love for rivers and nature that came from my DayDay is something I will carry on for my entire life, and try to pass on to everyone who I come in contact with. His love for me, my sisters, my Grandma, my Grandpa, and my Mom is so strong, we always knew it, it was always surrounding us. It is so hard to write something that adequately expresses my feelings. I am split in half. I feel him, but I am absolutely devastated. I wish I could wake up to a video he sent of him sitting on the front in the sun listening to the Grateful Dead dancing. I wish I could call him to ask about the work question that I need advice with, I wish I could tell him I love him so much. I don’t know how to go on without his presence, but I know he is always with me.

I love you so, so, so much Dad. I miss you. Please come back.

– Cria

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My dad, one of my best friends. What a life you gave us. Thank you for all the basketball games, nights eating twizzlers, teaching me guitar and loving me through the yuckiest times and the best times. Tiny and I are going to miss you so much. Thank you for watching Happy Days and Lord of the Rings with me while you worked on your exercise bike. I hurt for my future children who won’t have your physical presence with them but I know you are forever here. I wish you could just pat me on the head and say “love you too!” There are no words for this and nothing to get across how I feel. I am so proud to be your daughter 

I love you so much and thank you for always and still being with me. 

- Siobhan

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Dad, I wish we had more time.
I am so grateful to the universe for the beautiful memories we have, and I am eternally grateful everything you have taught me. The warm afternoon sun feels like your smile.
I can't fathom living without you, because I have never had to.
The world is a better place because of you, and I will forever miss you.
I know that you have found peace.

I love you so much, Dad.

- Alana

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The family has asked that all donations in his honor be made to Friends Of The River. https://www.friendsoftheriver.org/support-for/make...
Posted by Aji Saidy on December 2, 2020
Dr Kay was and always will have a special place in my heart.. He was very sympathetic, care-free, and a great person overall, i couldn't ask for more. He inspires to keep pushing and maintain my goals for Int"l Relations, without him i don't think this journey with my undergraduate studies would not have come to light. His passing really affected me but I just have keep pushing and try to strong!!! Sir, you will be missed but not forgotten, we love you Dr Kay.
Posted by Kristin Wood on November 30, 2020
Sean was my high school classmate and, through Facebook, we reconnected and boy was I glad we did. I liked to call Sean my "political rock" because he knew so much and was so measured and calm throughout these crazy last 4 years. He really was the same caring and kind person that he was in high school and for his whole life. When my daughter went to OWU for college, he always made sure I knew that I could always stop by and say hello while in Delaware or count on him for anything my daughter needed if I couldn't be there. One day my daughter called me and told me that this man stopped her on campus out of the blue and said "you must be Kristin's daughter - I recognize you from the pictures she posts!" She was touched - as was I - that he went out of his way to say hello to her. But that was just who Sean was. We both lamented over Covid this past year and Sean always kept me up-to-speed about what OWU was doing to move forward when things were so uncertain. I loved seeing his kayaking adventures in Delaware and of course his Dancing Professor videos that were one-of-a-kind. He very kindly always sent me an invitation to participate in some of the really cool zoom events he did this fall and I was so happy to be included. Sean cared about the important things in life - family, the environment and being outdoors, knowledge, music and friendship. I will miss him so much. RIP my friend.
Posted by Jacob Hunsaker on November 28, 2020
Sean,
I’ve sat and wondered what to right here for a little bit. There really are no words to describe the hurt that sits in my stomach. Your presence is truly missed within the walls of your home, the community, and the world. You were an inspiration and helped me with so many things. You gave me advice, helped me get into college, and guided the steps I needed to take to get there. I will never forget waking up at 6:30am in Ohioplye while camping and talking about life and future ideas on places to go and visit. I wish it was still all possible. Thank you for showing me so many new places and hobbies ! It will never get easy walking into your home and not hearing “hey stop right there covid kid” or even just a “Hey what’s up jake”. I am forever grateful of all that you did for me. Rest in paradise.
Posted by Dan Haybron on November 25, 2020
I couldn't wait to get out of high school and tried to get out of attending my own graduation. While our parents were friends, Sean and I weren't particularly close at that point. But shortly before our class graduated he picked up his guitar and played us "Leaving on a jet plane." Sean made even this cynic grow teary-eyed.

I'm so glad we reconnected and built our friendship in recent years. Sean was such a role model for so many of us--full of joy, optimism, and idealism, but totally honest and never afraid to call bs. He was my favorite political commentator, so wise and centered, and I admired how he not only knew so many important Washington folks but also saw the good in many of them--that there are dedicated, honorable public servants on both sides of the aisle.

And on top of that, jamming with David Crosby, hosting Zoom meetings with rock stars, guiding river rafting tours, and writing about global security, environmental issues, Ireland's politics... and doting on his beautiful family. When did he ever sleep?

In my last ethics class this Fall, Monday, we discussed what it means to lead a good life so for the artists' perspective I played a clip from your webinar with Graham Nash, Serj Tankian and Thom Shanker, ending with Serj's suggestion that we choose to be the sort of people who can open doors for others. You were too much of a slam-dunk to serve as an example for solving philosophical puzzles. Of course you had a good life. But you opened a lot of doors for people. So long, old friend. I'll miss you.
Posted by Marsha Tilden on November 24, 2020
Sean,

We both entered OWU in 1999 and I have asked numerous students about their favorite class and Dr. Kay's classes have been mentioned frequently. I have enjoyed listening to your music and watching you walk or run around the northwest neighborhood for years. You will be missed!
Posted by Annie Miner on November 24, 2020
Dr. Kay was one of the best professors I have ever had. I learned a great deal from him and am so fortunate that I was able to benefit from his wise words and irreplaceable experience. I appreciated the lengths he went to make sure our transition from in-person classes to virtual was as smooth as possible. He truly cared about all of his students and it was evident in the time that he invested in every single one of them. I am thinking of Dr. Kay's family always.
Posted by Sarah Badgerow Tielemans on November 23, 2020
My grief at the early loss of Sean Kay is soothed only by the knowledge that he lived well and purposefully. He modeled for me how to navigate by the stars of faith, love, and joy. Just as the waters of the river, which patiently yet persistently transform all they encounter, so has he been and so shall he be.
Posted by Emma Johnson on November 21, 2020
Dr.Kay and I’s acquaintance, although short, has remained a constant reminder to me of the kindness and generosity of people. I met him my junior year of college, right before my older sister passed away. Every day I was just trying to take one step forward, to move in a positive direction and my interaction with Dr.Kay, although for something menial, was so healing for me. His bright smile and deep laugh lifted my spirits and his support helped me find a passion for something that I had thought I would have to let pass me by.

So thank you Dr.Kay, I only wish that we could’ve spent more time together so that I was able to learn more from you. More about international politics and more about taking each day one step at a time.
Posted by Katie Rozsa on November 20, 2020
Dr. Kay was honestly the best professor I’ve had in my three years here at OWU. I have taken three of his classes and my perspective has changed. He enlightened me and others on the world, specifically foreign policy and environmental policy. Last semester, it was about the world of Europe. I thank him for getting me through the hard times of the pandemic, I never had any other professor who cared so much about his students. When I first met him, he made me feel so much better about my hearing loss as he was deaf in one ear too. I have never related to a teacher or professor via hearing loss before, so we sort of gained a mutual respect for each other in that way. He inspired me to achieve higher and nobler things, especially in times I doubted myself. Kay saw potential in all of his students and it was humbling. One thing that always makes me laugh is how he would tease me about asking questions all the time. For example, I was on a zoom call with him and another student, Dr. Kay was describing how his two questions per lecture would work. He said not many students in person asked questions. Then he added, “you see, Katie always has questions” with a laugh, and I laughed because it was funny since it’s true. So what did I do when Dr. Franklin ran American Foreign Policy the other day? I asked four questions, not on purpose, but because I am always curious. I think Dr. Kay in that moment probably enjoyed my hand raising and challenging questions for Dr. Franklin. Lastly, I think he really misses his truck, he talked about it a lot in environmental policy lectures this semester!
Posted by Cole Hatcher on November 20, 2020
I had the pleasure of working with Sean for more than 14 years and of collaborating with him to share news of his latest book, op-ed, media interview, student achievement, career recognition, and more. I was always amazed at the breadth and depth of his knowledge and his ever-changing interests. He was truly interested in making the world better -- and he achieved that goal over and over again. He will be missed.
Posted by Josh Busby on November 20, 2020
Sean, I'll miss you my friend. It was just weeks ago I called in to your class to talk about climate change action and the COVID crisis. As two music- and environment-loving middle-age guys, I thought we had many years of getting to know each other even better. I was looking forward to finding a time to get out there on the water and paddle with you or hear you tune up that guitar.

I know many of your friends in our field are so sad to hear of your passing. We are wishing your family well, and we hope to keep you in our thoughts as we fight that good fight going forward. Rock on brother.
Posted by Heather Zacker on November 18, 2020
   We had the privilege of meeting Sean at Oberlin at the senior recital of our son Josh, his daughter Cria’s partner. What generosity of spirit, to drive two hours each way–with Anna Marie and the girls—to show his support. Jenny and David came too, and it was so clear to me what a strong, close family they all were. Living far from Ohio, my husband and I were so touched and comforted to know that our son had people nearby who treated him as family already.
   The first thing I noticed about Sean was his warmth and openness. Sean was a person whose emotions showed on his face—and so the second thing I noticed was his love for and pride in his family.    
   Conversation with Sean was easy and engaging. He was interested in many things, had his own take on various topics, and you could feel the energy and zest for life emanating from him.
   A few months later, we met up again at the Oberlin graduation weekend. I remember our families strolling around campus and around town enjoying the festive feel. An image sticks in my mind: At one point we came upon a group of students taking turns doing “Double Dutch” jump rope. Anna Marie spontaneously jumped right in and took a turn, and I can still see the image of Sean’s face, with the widest smile of delight and affection. 
   Over the pandemic these last several months, we appreciated the peaceful beauty that Sean shared in the photos he took from his kayak. We enjoyed watching Sean livestreaming his music, and we occasionally popped onto Facebook or Instagram to watch the dancing professor. What fun! More than fun, those shows reflect the great priority Sean placed on connecting with other people. He used his musical talent, his creativity, his lack of inhibition at being “goofy,” to lighten the mood during a dark time, to reach out across the “social distancing” to build relationships, build community, create optimism.
   Although we didn’t get to spend a lot of time together with Sean, we’ve gotten to know and love Cria, and we see the impact of her dad’s influence on the amazing woman she is. Her passion for working to improve the environment, passed on from David to Sean to Cria. Her ability to express unabashed and unfiltered joy. Her warmth and openness to new ideas and new people. We are certain that Sean’s legacy, through his family and all those he touched, will continue to change the world, like “ripples in still water.”
   We are sad for ourselves, that we will not get to develop a deep relationship with Sean as our children continue to make their way in the world together. We are sad for the world, losing a force of passion and advocacy and creativity and educational excellence and prolific writing and love. And we are devastated for Anna Marie, Cria, Siobhan, Alana, and Jenny, whose loss is immeasurable and beyond words.
   Yet we know that Sean’s love and strength will sustain his friends and his family, and we are grateful for having known him.   
-Heather Zacker and David Harlow
Posted by Meghan Edwards on November 18, 2020
I was so fortunate to take three classes with Dr. Kay, and I would have been so happy to take more because I loved learning from his experiences and expertise. In all of the classes I took with him, Dr. Kay liked to quote from a speech by Dwight Eisenhower in which he said, "We must also have a people who will keep their heads and, in every field, leaders who can meet intricate human problems with wisdom and with courage. In -- In short, we will need not only Einsteins and Steinmetzes, but Washingtons, and Emersons."

It was so important to Dr. Kay that all of his students knew that their studies and interests were valuable to the world, and that all of us could make a positive difference. And he embodied that promise, as a professor who was both a skilled researcher and an inspiring idealist. Dr. Kay wanted us to be great people as well as good students. He is missed.
Posted by Joshua Spero on November 18, 2020
   Such a tragic loss, such an extraordinary kindred spirit, such a beloved teacher, mentor, family man, friend to so, so many -- I will miss him so dearly.

Whether lecturing at one another's universities (Ohio Wesleyan & Fitchburg State on public service, global security, & education's impact on policymaking); with wonderful students at both universities, with families in Ireland, enjoying Star Island week, traveling in Canada...the journey was extraordinary.

Now, your wondrous spirit remains indelible for all of us in ways which we carry on your quest to bring joy, hope, and strength to those around us -- and afar.

May his spirit smile on us, his family held tightly in great care, his impact felt for the ages -- as we try to move forward, always infused with his compassion -- giving us strength, determination, hope...

I will do what we did so many times together -- toast to the wonders of and challenges in life -- and to the generations past, and for SK's impact on our futures!

And, as he always had quite the happy-go-lucky view of life, when I told this "joke" at Star Island (2006), when we had the Kay Family join our week-long International Affairs Conference (I chaired, Sean spoke), Sean laughed so hard, he started crying.

When I came over to sit down with him after the "joke," I started crying (because we were laughing so hard at such a silly joke). You had to be there for the joke, naturally... (and have some movie history ): "Why did the chicken cross the road? To see his friend, Gregory Peck!"

So, all of you Kays -- may his blessings give you strength to forge ahead in your lives, continuing to bring joy to so many. Our deepest condolences to you (from Josh, Ellen, Sam, & Henry) to: Anna-Marie, Cria, Siobhan, Alana, and both Moms, Whom I got to know, too!

-- And, lastly, we'll try our best to keep NATO strong and Europe close to the U.S./vice-versa

All my love, SK & Family -- Josh S.
Posted by Acadia Caryl on November 18, 2020
As a student of Dr. Kay's, he went above and beyond as a professor. Last fall semester, I was accepted into Dr. Kay's TLC but could not fit his lecture into my schedule. He jumped at doing an independent study with me once a week to go over the lectures and make sure I could go on the trip. I really valued the time we spent in his office, talking about politics, the environment, and the great outdoors. I always appreciated how intently he listened to me and his respect for my opinions. I was sad when TLC was cancelled due to COVID but always had a pick me up watching Dr. Kay's lectures where he sang and danced for his students. He will be deeply missed by me and other students on campus, along with those who had him previously as a professor. My condolences to his family. My heart is with you all.
Posted by Fatima Zafar on November 17, 2020
To Dr. Kay,
Whatever I am today is because of your trust in my abilities. I am forever indebted. You have always been a learner. I have been impressed with your level of humbleness and keen interest in learning new things.I will always remember your string dislike on Irish beer. You have left an imprint on my personality. I will always remember you as not just my mentor but my trusted friend.
Posted by Alexander Sánchez on November 17, 2020
I owe so much to Sean. He was one of the first professors at OWU to show interest in my work and to encourage me to continue studying international relations. His words of advice and support gave me the courage I needed when I doubted if I made the right choices. When I met him, never did I think I’d have the chance to meet his family, or that he’d be the one to mentor me on my BA Thesis, or that I’d go as far as to consider him a friend.

Sean, I’m really going to miss you. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me and so many other students who had the honor to cross your path.
Posted by Valerie Walls on November 16, 2020
My Dear Cousin,

You have left us far too soon. While we weren’t able to see each other very often, you were always there and I loved you very much. Over the past few years, I loved seeing your beautiful family photos on Instagram, and your daily kayak trips with photos of all the wildlife you saw. And I watched from a distance as you made clear how important your family, nature, politics, music, and a world we could be proud of were to you. You lived fully and with passion and love. 

May you be with the River now, such a meaningful place for you, flowing gently with your Dad by your side.

You will be in my heart forever,
Valerie
Posted by Kim Swisher on November 16, 2020
I enjoyed getting to know Sean as the father of my students, seeing the immense love and pride he had of his daughters, the love and admiration he had for his beautiful wife, witnessing the respect he had for all of nature, thankful for his insights into government, reading his book, listening to his music, and enjoying his dancing professor videos for his students. The world was definitely a better place because of his presence. His light will surely live on through his family. My sincere condolences to Anna Marie, Cria, Siobhan, and Alana. Holding you all close in my heart.

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Aji Saidy on December 2, 2020
Dr Kay was and always will have a special place in my heart.. He was very sympathetic, care-free, and a great person overall, i couldn't ask for more. He inspires to keep pushing and maintain my goals for Int"l Relations, without him i don't think this journey with my undergraduate studies would not have come to light. His passing really affected me but I just have keep pushing and try to strong!!! Sir, you will be missed but not forgotten, we love you Dr Kay.
Posted by Kristin Wood on November 30, 2020
Sean was my high school classmate and, through Facebook, we reconnected and boy was I glad we did. I liked to call Sean my "political rock" because he knew so much and was so measured and calm throughout these crazy last 4 years. He really was the same caring and kind person that he was in high school and for his whole life. When my daughter went to OWU for college, he always made sure I knew that I could always stop by and say hello while in Delaware or count on him for anything my daughter needed if I couldn't be there. One day my daughter called me and told me that this man stopped her on campus out of the blue and said "you must be Kristin's daughter - I recognize you from the pictures she posts!" She was touched - as was I - that he went out of his way to say hello to her. But that was just who Sean was. We both lamented over Covid this past year and Sean always kept me up-to-speed about what OWU was doing to move forward when things were so uncertain. I loved seeing his kayaking adventures in Delaware and of course his Dancing Professor videos that were one-of-a-kind. He very kindly always sent me an invitation to participate in some of the really cool zoom events he did this fall and I was so happy to be included. Sean cared about the important things in life - family, the environment and being outdoors, knowledge, music and friendship. I will miss him so much. RIP my friend.
Posted by Jacob Hunsaker on November 28, 2020
Sean,
I’ve sat and wondered what to right here for a little bit. There really are no words to describe the hurt that sits in my stomach. Your presence is truly missed within the walls of your home, the community, and the world. You were an inspiration and helped me with so many things. You gave me advice, helped me get into college, and guided the steps I needed to take to get there. I will never forget waking up at 6:30am in Ohioplye while camping and talking about life and future ideas on places to go and visit. I wish it was still all possible. Thank you for showing me so many new places and hobbies ! It will never get easy walking into your home and not hearing “hey stop right there covid kid” or even just a “Hey what’s up jake”. I am forever grateful of all that you did for me. Rest in paradise.
his Life
Sean Kay died peacefully in his sleep of a heart attack early Friday morning November 13, 2020.

He is survived by his wife Anna Marie, their three daughters Cria, Siobhan, and Alana, his mother Jennifer Kay and his mother-in-law Anna Madigan. He is preceded in death by his father David Kay, and his father-in-law Matthew Madigan. He was a doting and dedicated family man as part of a large extended family in the United States and Ireland. He was proud of his daughters, who were his great joy, and he loved them.

Sean was an avid outdoorsman, exploring rivers all over the country in his kayak, a love inherited from his father. He went on several summer-long cross country camping trips with his family and many years of wonderful adventures in Michigan with his “Michigan crew” of dear friends. He loved music, especially the Grateful Dead, and his community of musicians with whom he joyously jammed often.

A gregarious and loving man, Sean was larger than life, which, as the cliché goes, he lived to the fullest. He was loved and he will be missed.

The following was written by Cole Hatcher from Ohio Wesleyan University, an institution where Sean made some dear lifelong friends, and where he was proud to be a professor.

In the afterward of his book on music and social change, Ohio Wesleyan University professor Sean Kay, Ph.D., shared this sentiment:
“The Beatles ended one of the greatest rock and roll records ever – Abbey Road – with this line: ‘And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.’ … Sometimes the simplest message is the most powerful. If it is true that, in the end, love trumps hate and fear, then certainly all you need is love.”

Ohio Wesleyan is remembering Kay with love today – including his passion for music, the environment, global security, and, most importantly, preparing his students to make a difference in the world. Kay died Nov. 13 at his home.

He joined Ohio Wesleyan in 1999 and was the current Robson Professor of Politics and Government and director of the International Studies Program. He was a prodigious scholar who was constantly researching, writing, and publishing books and commentaries reflecting his newest knowledge.

In recognition of his significant scholarship, Kay earned the 2020 Welch Award for Scholarly Achievement, which recognizes “distinguished scholarly or artistic achievement among Ohio Wesleyan University faculty members.” He previously received OWU’s Bishop Francis Kearns Award for outstanding teaching and was the first recipient of the University’s Libuse L. Reed Endowed Professorship.

The topics of his many acclaimed books attest to the diversity of his interests. They include “NATO and the Future of European Security”; “Global Security in the Twenty-first Century: The Quest for Power and the Search for Peace”; “Celtic Revival?: The Rise, Fall and Renewal of Global Ireland”; “America’s Search for Security: The Triumph of Idealism and the Return of Realism”; and “Rockin’ the Free World! How Rock & Roll Changed America and the World.”

“Dr. Sean Kay was passionate about the power of learning and its potential to make the world a better place,” said University President Rock Jones, Ph.D. “Whenever I talk to alumni who took his courses, I always hear about the deep impact Sean made on their lives. His impact as an educator and scholar will be long remembered and celebrated. His legacy is significant.”

OWU student Meg Edwards ’22 shared via social media: “Sean Kay was one of the first faculty members I met at Ohio Wesleyan, before I’d committed. His courses changed my career path and my worldview and I will never forget when we all wanted to give up in the spring, he danced. OWU will not be the same without him.” (After the coronavirus impacted in-person learning, Kay became known for dancing at the start of his online classes to ensure the sessions started off with a smile.)

In addition to Kay’s work at Ohio Wesleyan, he also was a Mershon Associate at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies at The Ohio State University. He previously served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of State, and National Intelligence Council. He also held previous positions as a Non-Resident Fellow at the Eisenhower Institute, a Visiting Assistant Professor of Government at Dartmouth College, at the Institute for National Strategic Studies (U.S. Department of Defense), and at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Brussels, Belgium.
As a student, Kay earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Kent State University, a master’s degree from Free University of Brussels, and his doctorate from the University of Massachusetts.

In addition to his scholarly achievements, Kay was an active and recognized member of the Delaware community, where he both worked and lived.

Most recently, Kay earned the Keep Delaware County Beautiful Coalition’s Garrison-Brown Award for his volunteer work at the 2019 Northern Olentangy Watershed Festival, Olentangy River Cleanup, and Scioto River Clean Sweep. During the sweep, he used his kayaking expertise to keep volunteers safe and moving forward as they pulled debris from the water. His interest in rivers also tied into his most recent research into grassroots campaigns for river conservation in the United States and abroad.

Rather than hosting a funeral service during the pandemic, there is a virtual memorial page at https://www.forevermissed.com/sean-kay/about for those who wish to share memories or photographs.

The family has asked that all donations in his honor be made to Friends Of The River. https://www.friendsoftheriver.org/support-for/make-a-donation/

Recent stories

A Musical Friendship

Shared by David Pengra on November 22, 2020
I met Sean shortly after he arrived at OWU, in 1998 or '99.  There was a group of us younger faculty who would lunch regularly at the Brown Jug restaurant in Delaware. I don't remember how it came up, but somehow I learned that he liked to play guitar and I mentioned that I played bass and was always up for a jam with nearly anyone.

He invited my family to their house for dinner, and to bring my bass.  We met Anna Marie, Cria and Siobhan (who was just a baby then). I was very excited to play.  Most musician friends I know are the same way: define "fun" and it will involve playing music together.  After dinner, we sat in their living room, he started into some blues, I dug in, and we both knew we had found a musical partner pretty much immediately.

I've always been happy just to play with friends and prior to playing with him, I'd performed only sporadically.  But Sean was a born performer.  He knew dozens, actually hundreds, of songs.  The Grateful Dead, of course, but also most of the covers that the Grateful Dead performed, like "Mama Tried" by Merle Haggard and "Well Alright" by Buddy Holly.  Plus songs by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, CSNY, the Eagles, Paul Simon, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, and on and on.  

Sean had the idea to play a semi-regular show at a local bar near campus, the Backstretch.  It was popular with students and they would even pay us.  We worked up three sets to play from 9 to midnight. We called ourselves "The Professors", and with an eye towards attracting OWU students to check us out, put up a few posters around campus.  Sean talked it up too (this was before facebook). It worked: the place was packed, on a weeknight.  

Sean encouraged me as a performer as no one else had done.  He liked for me to take some bass solos and also to sing (I am NOT a singer.) I appreciated his willingness to let me screw up, even onstage.   

We played shows every month or two for the next few years.  Sean always had new songs to try out.  Many of these I had heard but never played, and others were completely new to me.  Sean knew how to play guitar in a way that carried almost a full arrangement on just six strings.  He had a strong sense of rhythm and time and could get the place rocking with only him and my bass (no drums).  I remember someone remarking that our sound was "almost orchestral."  He also had a good sense of how to pace a set, and how to build excitement through segues (one song leading into another without a break).  Sean used to joke about a group of students, "Professorheads," who made a point to come to our shows.

A few memories from the Backstretch: "Here Comes the Sun" a few days after George Harrison died; Neil Young's "Let's Roll" in our first show after the 9/11 attacks; my son Evan (about 5 years old) sipping on a complimentary Shirley Temple (loaded up with 5 or 6 Maraschino cherries) while we played his favorite song "Mama Tried"; and the Grateful Dead's "Ripple" when Sean got the whole bar to sing along at the end, "La la la daa daa ...," filling the room with that great communal warmth, with the gift that music can bring.

Others who played with Sean or saw him perform will know what I am talking about: his all-in commitment to a song, his talent, skill and charisma as a performer, and his generosity of spirit.  I am heartbroken for his family and his many friends, colleagues and students who will miss him.  The memory of his music will live on in us.

You Will Always Be One of My Brothers / You & Your Family / An Indelible Impact on My Family/Me

Shared by Joshua Spero on November 18, 2020
(Posted on my Facebook page once I heard about such sadness):

A tribute to my dear friend, cherished colleague, wonderful confidante and compatriot, kind-hearted and passionate soul.

Sean Kay and I met in 1993 at a Brussels NATO Conference to start our journey together, professionally and with our families across many cities in Europe, Canada, the Midwest, the Northeast, and Washington, DC. He passed away today at only 53.

We had been in contact quite recently, particularly over his crucial contributions as part of the Europe advisory team to President-Elect Biden...

Such a tragic loss, such an extraordinary kindred spirit, such a beloved teacher, mentor, family man, friend to so, so many -- I will miss him so dearly.

I've posted some pictures on this "Forever Missed" picture section -- for which to remember just a few times of our time together -- whether lecturing at one another's universities (Ohio Wesleyan & Fitchburg State on public service, global security, & education's impact on policymaking); with wonderful students at both universities, with families in Ireland.

May his spirit smile on us, his family held tightly in great care, his impact felt for the ages -- as we try to move forward, always infused with his compassion -- giving us strength, determination, hope...

I will do what we did so many times together -- toast to the wonders of and challenges in life -- and to the generations past, and for SK's impact on our futures!

With deep gratitude, appreciation, and thankfulness for our journeys together. Sending love and care to all -- Josh Spero & Spero Family

Thanks Professor Kay

Shared by Jeffrey George on November 17, 2020
Professor Kay was a great man. I first came to know Sean in his capacity as “Professor” - where he made political science and global affairs come to life with his enthusiasm and passion.

I’m writing to share a few of my stories of Professor Kay, as I’m sure that he touched the lives of hundreds more students in similar ways.

When applying to law school, Professor Kay agreed to write a recommendation on my behalf. He shared it with me, and as a student who nearly failed out of Ohio Wesleyan at one point, it filled me with the self-belief that maybe I was actually up for the task. I know his recommendation moved the needle for those reviewing my application as well. At the end of the day, Professor Kay saw the best in me, and convinced others that I was worth taking a chance on.

After getting accepted to law school I saw him at a restaurant about a year later. I was with my girlfriend at the time, now wife, and he remarked on what a handsome couple we were. Here he was again, just trying to make me look good.

Most recently, I emailed him and asked him for a new letter of recommendation, this time to pave the way for a potential career change. Without hesitation, he graciously agreed, and once again, went about making my life better.

Professor Kay no doubt did this for hundreds of others of students. He was just a guy that made the life of everyone that knew him, better.

Thanks for everything. You will be deeply missed.