Obituary for Kathryn "Kay" Yates
Kathryn “Kay” Elizabeth (Cummings) Yates was born on August 12, 1923 in Rochester, Olmsted County, Minnesota to parents Julius and Clara (Swedberg) Cummings. Kay was the eldest of six children, followed by Donald, Lorraine, Lois and twins, Richard and Robert.
Julius’ grandfather was one of the first settlers of Olmsted County Minnesota in 1856, with lineage tracing back to England. He died of typhoid fever in 1864 while serving in the Civil War. Kay’s paternal grandmother, Lizzie Jacobs, was also daughter to a Civil War veteran, Henry (Heinrich) Jacobs, originally from Arshain, Germany. Through her paternal ancestors Kay was able to qualify as a Daughter of the Revolution (DAR) and as a Colonial Dame.
Kay's mother, Clara, and her twin brother, Frank, were orphaned as children. Clara knew very little about her parents.
Kay was brought up in Rochester, Minnesota during the depression years. Kay would tell stories about her childhood. Kay’s father was fortunate to have work as a baker throughout the Great Depression. Julius learned the trade while serving in the army during WWI. Her father baked all night in the bakery and would bring home fresh baked goods for the family. Kay's mother would give away their day old bread to neighbors who were happy to receive it. She also tells about when she fell through the ice while ice skating with her sister.
Kay relocated from Minnesota to San Diego in 1945 and most of her immediate family joined her in 1948. Her father was 52-years-old and found a job as a baker at Conklins Bakery.
Kay married Thomas Yates on April 8, 1948. Tom would often say that they met at the Welfare Office because the building used to be a dance hall. They raised their children, Steven and Suzanne “Sue” in the house they built in Point Loma. Although she worked a few years as a file clerk at the San Diego Credit Exchange, she was primarily a homemaker. Tom and Kay were married for 57 years before Tom passed away on November 3, 2005. Tom retired from North Island, Naval Air Station in 1978.
Kay remarked that her family was her “biggest contribution” and “blessing” in life. One memorable adventure Kay recalled with Tom and their two children was a family trip to Washington D.C. in 1960. Tom and Kay were given tickets to observe the senate while in session and saw former Vice President Nixon presiding over the senators, amongst whom were Lyndon Johnson and John F. Kennedy.
Some hobbies Kay enjoyed were oil painting, sewing, needlepoint work, crocheting and over the last decades of her life, genealogy. Kay recounted a neighbor asking her to go to the family history library one day. It was there that Kay found the 1860 census for Minnesota and discovered her grandfather at one-year-old living with his parents and grandfather next door. Kay was “hooked” for the rest of her life on finding her ancestors. After years of searching she was finally able to discover her maternal grandparents. She made contact with her grandmother's family in Norway who invited her to visit in 2004. That trip was a highlight for her life.
Kay is survived by siblings Lorraine, Lois, and Robert; children Steven R. Yates and Suzanne (Yates) Smith; grandchildren Joshua Smith, Jeremy Yates, Sara (Yates) Steen, and Christina (Smith) Turner; great grandchildren Jaelin and Chase Lai-Yates, Ashlyn and Kiersten Steen.
Kay lived a full 94 years of life. She will be deeply missed but live on in our hearts