ForeverMissed
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.
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.

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