Kent T. Kay
MILLERTON — Long-time Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) Kent T. Kay, known for a love of animals and the gentle way he had with them, died Feb. 12, 2023, at age 89 from complications of dementia. He was a resident of Amira Choice Minnetonka in Minnesota at the time of his death but spent most of his life in New York, first growing up in the city and later residing in Millerton, New York, where he purchased a veterinary practice serving the surrounding dairy farms in 1965.
Growing up in New York City, Dr. Kay dreamed of living in the country, working summers at horse farms in New York and New Jersey and eventually studying at A&M in New Mexico where he learned firsthand about working with large animals. This led him to study at Cornell University, where he earned his DVM degree in 1957. He worked in a few small clinics before purchasing his practice in Millerton, which included a ranch house and a small clinic on four acres of land. His wife, Marilyn (Masterson) Kay, who also grew up in New York City, joined him in his dream of small-town life, serving as office manager for the practice. She balanced that with raising their four sons, who grew up in a lively household surrounded by animals, both large and small.
Marilyn recalls the long hours her husband kept tending animals at all hours of the day or night. “Before Kent went to sleep each night, he took a shower and laid out his clean clothes — including a short-sleeved shirt, signature bow tie and coveralls. It wasn’t unusual for him to attend a birth of a calf or foal in the middle of the night,” she said. “And it also wasn’t unusual for him to complete his day late in the evening with surgeries — but he absolutely loved his work.”
Because it was a small practice, the boys started working in the clinic when they began grade school. Some of the animals that came to the clinic stayed, including Irma, a pig that grew to 300 pounds, and Sweetheart, a large St. Bernard that became fast friends with a tiny stray chihuahua named Charlie. “And then there was Tornado, our amazing Siamese cat that literally bounced from object to object inside the house and came when we whistled to him like a dog,” son Gene remembers, adding that another memorable moment included his father trimming the nails of baby tigers in town for the circus. One of Dr. Kay’s sons, Clinton, followed in his footsteps and owns a veterinary practice in Boulder, Colorado.
Over the years, Dr. Kay became known for his gentle way with horses, tending many equestrian teams, some of them Olympic caliber. After selling his clinic in 1980s, he continued to work with horses on a part-time basis before he retired.
In addition to his professional work, Dr. Kay was involved in the local community, serving on the Village Board. He was a member of the steering committee developing a region Rails to Trails path. He and his wife Marilyn were long-term members of the Church of St John in the Wilderness in Copake Falls, New York, where both served on the Church Vestry and sang in the choir, Dr. Kay contributing his beautiful “Irish tenor” voice. He also was involved in getting the church listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Dr. Kay is survived by his wife of 66 years, Marilyn, and his sons Christopher Kay of New York, New York; Eugene (Jane) Kay of Plymouth, Minnesota, and Clinton Kay of Boulder, Colorado; daughter-in-law Melanie Kay of Millerton, wife of his son Timothy, who predeceased him in 2019. Grandchildren include Emily, Jessie, Alexander, Alycia, Gabrielle and Genevieve Kay. A memorial service is planned for early summer in Copake Falls, N.Y. Memorials may be given to Church of St John in the Wilderness, P.O. Box 180, Copake Falls, N.Y. 12517, or to the Animal Humane Society.
A celebration of Life for Kent T. Kay is planned on Saturday, June 17 at 10:00 am, at the Church of St John in the Wilderness, Copake Falls, NY.