Opinion

Local dynamo giving seniors a passionate voice

“The boomers are coming! The boomers are coming!” she sings out in this lovely voice with a grin on her face and the ever present twinkle in her eyes. “The boomers are coming, you know.”

They are, and they couldn’t ask for a better advocate than the irrepressible Judith Kay.

The organizer of the newly chartered Senior Action Committee, Judith is making sure everyone and everything is ready to welcome aging baby boomers to their sunset years in fine style.

As always, she’s ahead of the pack and making waves at the Givens Senior Center, where she finds the pickings slim and nowhere near adequate to address the needs of our South Kitsap senior citizens.

“There is such a vital need,” Kay said, “and it’s being ignored right now. We need to change that.”

She drags me to a potluck at the senior center.

“See how many people are here?” Kay notes. “See how few activities there are for people. It’s a disgrace.”

That’s going to change if Judith and her Senior Action Committee have their way.

You can’t hold Judith back.

Born with a perfect pitch and her hands forever on a piano keyboard, she raced through her school years graduating before her peers at the age of 16. Into college before she could blink, she discovered the Gilbert and Sullivan Society and a love of teaching music.

Wrapping up college at the age of 20, she zoomed into a masters program, starting at Hunter College in New York.

A visit to see a friend in California changed all that.

She got off the plane in LA and “sucked air. It was so beautiful and clean.”

It was the early-1960s, before the advent of educational television and before Judith Kay.

That changed, too.

She worked with Rudy Bretz and the now famous Morton Cooper, who helped her develop her voice and lose her New York accent.

“Your voice can get you hired, fired, lessened or listened to,” Kay said. “It’s everything.”

She finished up her masters degree at UCLA and became a teacher on television for Channel 5.

Involved with the start of KCET, she helped create the genre we know as educational television today.

Her later years in television and as a teacher are a whirlwind of activities, fun and amazing friends and influences.

It’s impossible for me to chronicle them for you. She was involved in video and theatrical productions, songwriting and more.

She served as a voice consultant, a coach, an actress, a performer, presenter and instructor.

She came to the Pacific Northwest the way she came to California — on a short visit.

“But I got off the plane and sucked air,” Kay recalled. “I thought, ‘This place is so beautiful.’

Fast forward 25 years, and she is taking Port Orchard by storm.

She’s offering a class in Port Orchard called “Winning with your voice,” on Oct. 24, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Bayview Java & Deli at 1213 Bay Street.

If she sits still long enough, you can coax her to sing you a song she co-wrote called, “Seattle, land of the long yellow crayon.”

“All Seattle children love to draw with crayons, green crayons get short from drawing leaves, brown gets really short because of tree tops and the mountains. Blue gets all worn down because of water and the fountains, but the longest crayon in the box, such a lonely fellow, since we never see the sun, we never use the yellow ...

“But there’s one bright day in the middle of July when the sun comes out. It’s a jewel in the sky, birds rise up with their babies at their wing and the yellow crayon leaves the box to draw these sunny things.”

She came to this song the way she comes to everything — through lovely synchronicity.

She went to a Christmas party with a friend and was approached by a young man who said, “You look like my sixth grade teacher.”

Turns out she was his sixth grade teacher, and their collaboration resulted in this and many other songs.

Bringing the sunshine of the yellow crayon to Port Orchard, she is urging everyone to pay attention to the fact that the boomers are coming.

Before they do, however, our seniors need attention.

She’s organizing a series of gatherings, starting on Nov. 8 with a punch bowl party at D.J.’s Music.

With big band music and room for dancing, it’ll be the first of many fundraisers for the Senior Action Committee.

Because the boomers are coming, but Judith is already here.

Call her at 360-876-5366 or at judithkhere@aol.com.

And check out her voice class. She has a lot to share.

Mary Colborn is a Port Orchard resident.

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