Keith “Cloudy” Kay (August 24 1921 – Nov 13, 2015)

Cloudy Kay

Obituary. It was Sunday August 24, 1921 at Alcomie, in the home of Margaret May and Thomas Bernard Kay, when their first born son, named Keith, made his entrance into the world.

Three years later he was joined by a little brother Thomas Bernard Jnr known as Tom or Skinny, followed by sister Margaret Isobel, known as Mardi (Billing) to complete the family unit.

This is where I will let you in on a family secret – the title of ‘Cloudy’ was bestowed upon him because his nappies had a distinct smell of cloudy ammonia – and you all thought it was because he was so tall he had his head in the clouds!

Little did his parents know that Keith would grow into the long lean man with a booming voice, a wonderful sense of humour, a quick wit and a natural love of singing and storytelling.

He learned the three Rs at the old Alcomie Primary School where one teacher controlled all the classes from grades one to six. He knew, instinctively, how to string nouns, adjectives and verbs together with great finesse. This skill together with his booming voice could be heard echoing around the hills whilst carrying out his farming duties.

He was a lucky man, in that he attracted a young woman named Dora Reid, the youngest daughter of James and Evelyn Reid, known as Toby to her eight brothers and sisters.

He didn’t waste any time by marrying her when she was only 19 and he was 21 so the words to the old tune ‘Too Young’ became their theme song to be rendered on many happy occasions.

Together they farmed and reared four children: Wendy Marilyn, Jillian Maree, Peter James and Debra Anne.

Upon retiring from farming, Cloudy really found his niche when he commenced work as a roving rural salesman for Clements & Marshall, later known as Roberts. As a struggling farmer himself, he had an affinity for the battler. His understanding and appreciation of the local farming community was rewarded with good business, often conducted around the kitchen table with a cuppa and cakes, or around the bar at the Marrawah Pub with the locals.

All the kids knew him as the ‘Jellybean Man’ and looked out for the little treats he always carried in his pockets.

Cloudy loved his footy, and he will be remembered as the tall, lanky ruckman with sharp elbows, bony knees and big boots.

Playing for Irishtown Football Club, but missing out on the elusive premiership, Cloudy did enjoy the camaraderie of being part of a legendary club and teams, and he was rewarded with Life Membership in 1974.

He was also awarded Life Membership by the Circular Head Football Association.

Whilst fiercely pro Circular Head, he also joined the planners and fought for the right for a team of local lads to enter the North West Football Union and was a founding committee member and vice president of the Smithton Saints Football Club for a couple of years. He took great delight in supporting and celebrating with son Peter, who played in the premiership team of 1983.

His work with enthusiastic supporters to help build the much loved Irishtown Community Centre was recognised with the ‘Cecil Carrol Community Service Award’. That together with being an active behind-the-scenes member of St.Vincent de Paul Society saw him awarded the Circular Head Australia Day ‘Citizen of the Year’ in 1987.

Cloudy and Toby shared a quiet, genuine love of their ‘Maker’ and their faith, which has seen them both through many tough times and they have always given back, with commitment to the Catholic Parish and School in various leadership roles.

He was in his element joining the brotherhood of the Knights of the Southern Cross, being seen as the old Patriarch of the Circular Head branch.

Often referred to as ‘Pope Cloud’ after a trip to Hobart in October 1986, in which he was chosen to represent the district and to help escort Pope John Paul II during the parade to meet the masses. He was honoured to receive Life Membership in 2010.

He also enjoyed the fellowship of the believers in the Circular Head Ecumenical Movement attending and contributing to services with other denominations.

Cloudy enjoyed life to the fullest, laughed and entertained with many little yarns, formed firm friendships and was a confidante to many which has sustained him through his 94 years.

During his last 13 months spent in care at Emmerton Park, he was still able to sing in the choir and entertain the residents and staff with his humour and wit. He also appreciated and enjoyed the visitations from family and friends to make his life worthwhile before leaving to be with his beloved Toby.

As told by daughter Wendy Schoenmaker

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