Kay Keith Lybarger, a longtime member of Kenyon’s maintenance staff as a carpenter, died Dec. 14, 2017. He was 80 and a resident of the Ohio Eastern Star Home in Mount Vernon, Ohio.
A 1957 graduate of the former Gambier High School, Kay served in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1958 to 1965 and earned the rank of sergeant. He started his carpentry career with the Hunter Brothers Contractors and then went to work in 1963 for an uncle, Carroll Lybarger. In 1971, Kay joined the staff at the College, where he worked until his retirement in 1999.
“Kay Lybarger epitomized what it meant to be a loyal employee of the College,” said Donald J. Omahan ’70 H’07, former dean of students at Kenyon. “He loved his work, and he took justifiable pride in it. A skilled craftsman and artist of the carpentry trade, Kay was the person to call upon if you wanted a job done, no matter how big or small, how basic or complex.
“Just as importantly, Kay was one of the ‘good guys.’ Kind and generous by nature, he was fun to be around and always eager to enter into conversation. He was well informed about the workings of the College, and he didn’t hesitate to offer a thoughtful opinion about the important as well as the more mundane issues of the day. With a twinkle in his eye, Kay was ready to let you know which issues he thought were, indeed, the important ones. He was usually right in his assessment.
“Kay was always one of the first people to seek me out and say welcome back on the several occasions I returned to the Hill after following career opportunities elsewhere. He would greet me like a long-lost friend, and our conversations and friendship would pick up without missing a beat. By his actions and his good work, Kay helped to make Kenyon a better place.”
“Kay had a wicked sense of humor, and he was very quick,” remembered Cornelia “Buffy” Ireland Hallinan ’76 H’91, a former chair of the College’s Board of Trustees. “One of our first encounters, when I was a student, was over some recently poured concrete Kay was smoothing out in front of what’s now Wiggin Street Coffee. I asked if I could write my name in the wet cement, and he agreed to let me do it. As soon as I had finished my signature, he took his trowel and obliterated it. Bargain kept, at least from Kay’s point of view.
“From that point on, I had a friendly, teasing relationship with Kay, who was not only an experienced carpenter but also a respected member of the community,” Hallinan added. “When I came back to work in the College’s admissions office after graduation, he spent a Saturday installing a new Formica counter in my apartment’s kitchen. I wrote him a note on his 25th anniversary of working at Kenyon to let him know how much he was appreciated.”
An active hunter, Kay was a member of the Buckskin Archery Club, the Centerburg Conservation Club, Gambier Fish and Game Club, Kinderhook Archery Club, and the Kokosing Gun Club. He was also a member of Mount Zion Lodge #9 F. & A.M.
Kay is survived by his wife of 55 years, Susanne Mellberg Lybarger; two daughters, Kimberly Lybarger Totman, budget manager in Kenyon’s Office of Admissions, and Dawn Lybarger Gibson; a son, Kenneth Lybarger; eight grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and a brother, Beryl Lybarger.
A funeral service was held at the Dowds-Snyder Funeral Home in Mount Vernon on Monday, Dec. 18, with Rev. Dr. Gary Campbell officiating. Burial was in Union Grove Cemetery near Gambier, with military honors provided by the Knox County Joint Veterans Council.
To share a memory or send an expression of sympathy to the family, please visit www.snyderfuneralhomes.com