102-year-old artist still leads full life

By Alaina Bartel

Kay stands in her living room.

Kay Van Scoy, age 102, makes her way over to one of two pale pink reclining chairs in her living room. The four walls surrounding her are covered in a white wallpaper decorated with tiny, periwinkle flowers.

On top of that wallpaper are several paintings — some of them she’s bought, several of them she’s painted herself and almost all of them contain beautiful, colorful birds perched on a branch dangling with flowers. Van Scoy’s art is depicted by an almost microscopic signature, “Kay,” hidden towards the bottom of the paintings.

One of her paintings.

To the left of her is a bay window showcasing her perfectly trimmed and green front lawn and a sidewalk leading up to her front door.

As a lawn mower zooms past her window, she takes a look outside and explains the shirtless man with the hot pink bandana steering it.

The view from Kay’s window.

“I’ve been alone and things have gone well because of the neighbors, they have taken over,” Van Scoy said. She was married in 1941 for 21 years until her husband passed away.

“He didn’t live too long, he had a heart attack. The ambulance people said they got him to the hospital but not soon enough,” she said. “I had never mowed the lawn but I was trying and I had lawnmower problems.

“So, I run over there,” to her neighbor Lowell Etzler’s, the man on the lawn mower, “and ask him to help and he’s been helping ever since. He and his wife make sure that everything is okay over here. If it wouldn’t be for them, I probably would not try to stay here because too many things happen. They check me every day to make sure I’m up.”

Kay shows off her paintings in her living room.

Although she lives alone, she’s never bored. Van Scoy has quite a few interests to keep up with along with her painting, including her playing card club, the library reading club and several church activities.

“I read a lot. We sort of tell each other which ones we like (at her book club) and pick them up at the library. I don’t really have anymore hobbies now since I’m 102,” she said.

Thirty years ago, however, her main hobby was painting. It all started when she was working in Mansfield and walked passed a business with a sign in the window. It said there was going to be an art teacher there giving painting lessons.

“I went in and signed up. I went into work and I told them I’d have to have this (day) and this (day) off in order to go to classes and they didn’t seem to object. I was working at the bank at that time,” she said.

For a while now she has been wanting to paint some angels, but she hasn’t had the resources to do so. She said it’s been a long while since she’s painted.

Another one of Kay’s paintings.

“My paints are so old and there’s a car in the garage but I’m not supposed to be driving it.,” Van Scoy said. “So I haven’t had a chance to freshen my paints.”

Towards the end of her sentence, her grandfather clock made its 3:00 p.m. presence known, although somewhat muffled.

“It’s a little weak, I haven’t wound it today,” she said with a light chuckle.

Van Scoy continued talking about her other interests and how she spends her time.

“Once a month I have a nephew that comes and he’s down in Amish Country. It takes him an hour to get here, but he spends a whole day with me and takes me to lunch and to any shopping I want to do. The last time he came, he made my salads for me. He makes himself useful when he comes,” she said with a smile.

Along with staying healthy by eating salads, Van Scoy credits her longevity, in part, to her father for encouraging her not to drink or smoke.

“In plain English, I’d say to live a clean life. In the first place, if my dad would have ever caught me or the two boys (her younger brothers) smoking, we would have gotten our pants paddled,” she said. “I think we were just taught a good healthy life at home.”

“I have taken life a day at a time and have enjoyed what I’ve had,” she added. “I just look forward to each day and my health is good. I’m looking forward to what comes next.”

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