My thoughts and prayers are with you and the entire family. Kay was truly a gift and I’m thankful she is now flying free. While those of us here will remember her fondly and shed tears as losing another.
Kay Metzger Groll - May 27, 1957 - August 24, 2019
Kay Metzger Groll, age 62, of Tucson, AZ, died on August 24, 2019. She was born on May 27, 1957, to Carl Kenneth and Joann (Stocker) Metzger, and grew up in the small town of Pana, IL, which she loved. She graduated in 1975 from Pana High School and in 1980 from Eastern Illinois University with bachelor's and master’s degrees in mathematics.
She married Rob Groll, also from Pana, on August 23, 1980. They celebrated their 39th anniversary the day before she died. The absolute joys of Kay’s life were her children, Karen Hazelton (Shaun) and Karl Groll, and grandchildren Ryder Terrial and Reagan Kay Hazelton, all of Tucson.
Kay excelled in sports from a very young age. She competed on all of the first girl’s teams at Pana High School (tennis, field hockey, volleyball, badminton, and track and field) and for one year on the boy’s golf team. Kay’s athletic career continued at EIU where she played tennis and badminton, winning two state championships. She then competed for many years on tennis teams at the national level. Her many teammates, coaches and the beloved EIU “Rowdies” remained lifelong friends and supporters.
Kay began her career as a math teacher at Stephen Decatur High School in Illinois. When the school needed a computer science teacher that first year, Kay volunteered, and continued teaching both subjects for the rest of her career. She taught for nearly 30 years in Tucson at Amphitheater and Canyon Del Oro high schools, and loved teaching the Advanced Placement math and computer science classes. She also taught at Pima and Central Arizona colleges. Kay touched the lives of thousands of students and was proud to call many of them, and her fellow teachers, friends.
Kay’s life centered around her family and friends. She loved telling stories, especially on April Fool’s Day, playing games, and making everyone laugh. She loved beach vacations to California and Hawaii and body surfing in the ocean. She loved staying active, golfing, hiking and biking in Sabino Canyon, and taking care of her whole family. Every once in a while she was known to enjoy a glass of wine or a margarita.
Kay’s life and the lives of all those around her changed when she was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, in December, 2013. In spite of her terminal diagnosis, Kay continued to see the beauty in everyday life. In 2014 while she could still walk, Kay made several trips to the beach with her family and some of her dearest friends (the “posse”) enjoying ocean swims and snorkeling. In 2015 she traveled with her sister to participate in the Precision Medicine Program at Boston’s ALS Therapy Development Institute, and was the featured speaker for the ALS Association Arizona Chapter Bite Nite fundraising event. One of the special highlights of each year was the Walk to Defeat ALS, when family and friends from around the country and all walks of Kay’s life would gather in Tucson to raise awareness and celebrate life. These events raised in excess of $250,000 to support research and patient care and brought an ever-expanding sea of Kay’s Shining Stars purple shirts to Reid Park in Tucson.
Kay began sharing her unique perspective on life with ALS in writing on the Kay’s Shining Stars Facebook page. She shared her experiences with honesty, humor, and grace, helping others to understand this devastating disease and to get through difficult times in their own lives. It was a labor of love with Kay doing all of her writing using only her eyes, thanks to eye gaze technology. She brought laughter and tears to her readers, including many who knew her only through her writing.
Kay was blessed with extraordinary - and extraordinarily generous - friends, family, and many caregivers to whom we are eternally grateful. Her neurologist Dr. Katalin Scherer and the entire ALS clinic team, were an invaluable support. Her caregiving team included Keyla, Patrick, Timothy, Susie, Laura and the team at Soulistic Hospice, friend Rita, and of course her dog, Charlee.
Kay is survived by her mother, husband, children, and grandchildren; sister, Marcia Silkensen, nephew Erik Silkensen and niece Beth Silkensen, uncle Larry Stocker, aunt Deb Curtis; father and mother in-law, Rab and Dorothy Groll, Rob’s sister and brothers and families, and many very special cousins and friends. She was preceded in death by her father and aunts Rowena North and Mary Ann Renis, and uncle Bill Stocker.
In February of this year Kay wrote about Discovering Peace through Poetry, reflecting on Mary Oliver’s poem “When Death Comes” she wrote: “Death is a difficult subject that most would prefer to avoid. For me it is fascinating. I am filled with curiosity about the next grand adventure, especially as my time is coming. I have no fear because I believe, like Mary, that time is but an idea, that life is eternal.”
Looking up at the mountain outside her backyard, Kay wrote: “My life has been one filled with joy and amazement, and more than a bit of craziness. There is little doubt that I’ve made the most of my visit in this world.”
Kay donated her brain and spinal cord to the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, AZ. She requested memorials be to a charity that is close to your heart and for purple shirts to be worn for the celebration of her life which is planned for October 4 at 3 p.m. at 5740 E Santa Fee, 85715 in Tucson.
Kay’s bright eyes and sweet smile will never be forgotten. We love you. Fly Free.
In the world of PALS and CALS, Kay WAS a shinning star. I know that it was her time, and that she is loving her newfound freedom, but we will miss her terribly. . She certainly is ready for the next great adventure, having wrung the last drop of life out of every day until her body was done. The only mourning her is for us...Kay is celebrating.