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PROF. THOMAS A. KAY. This gentleman is one of the oldest and most successful educators of Douglas County, and is well known over a large territory. He is a Georgian by birth, his natal county being De Kalb, where he first saw the light December 12, 1853.
The son of William T. and Lucretia (Cardar) Kay, the former of whom was a native of South Carolina and a son of Alexander Kay, who was a Virginian by birth and a farmer by occupation. William T. Kay was married in South Carolina and in 1850 took up his residence in Georgia, and from there enlisted in the Confederate Army, in which he served eighteen months. In November, 1870, he came to Missouri and is still living on the farm on which he first settled in the southern part of Douglas County. He has always been a Democrat, is a substantial citizen, is a successful farmer and a worthy member of the Baptist Church, as is also his wife, who was born in the Palmetto State, a daughter of Thomas Cardar, who was of French descent. Some of the early members of this family served in the Revolutionary War. To William T. Kay and his wife the following children were given: Sarah J., wife of J. J. Dickerson of this county; Tempy is the widow of J. D. Haden; Mary E. died at the age of two years; Julia E. is the widow of S. H. Sellers of this county; Thomas A., the subject of this sketch; Frances I., wife of R. M. Haden; William P., who died at the age of four years; Louise, who first married W. R. Hawkins, sheriff of Ozark County, and after his death wedded Charles Mackey, and is living in California.
Prof. Thomas A. Kay is one of the most prominent educators of the county, and laid the foundations of his present education in the public schools of Georgia. He also attended the schools of Mountain Home, Arkansas, and in 1872 became a teacher of Douglas County, and has taught over sixty terms of school. In 1890 he took charge of the schools of Ava, and has had the management of them ever since, having been for three years prior to that time a teacher in these schools. He was for some time principal of the Silver Shade and Arno schools, and to him the credit is due of having established the Good Hope College in Ozark. He was elected superintendent of the schools of Douglas County, and held the office four terms, eight years in all, and made a very zealous and efficient official. In April, 1893, at the expiration of his term of office, he abandoned school work on account of ill health, and engaged in the stock business, in which occupation he has been quite successful. He owns a good farm near Ava, which he rents, and has fifteen acres of town property in Ava, with a large and fine orchard. As a man and citizen, Prof. Kay is one of the leaders in the community in which he resides. He is active on political matters, is a Democrat, and for some time has held the office of elder in the Christian Church, of which he is a worthy member. The Professor was first married to Carrie Milne, of Ozark County, a school teacher, and by her became the father of five children: Homer A., who died at the age of two months; Ora, who died at the age of seven months; Luin died at the age of twenty months; Ethel, and Dewey. The mother of these children died in 1887, after which the Professor married Delilah Herndon, daughter of Judge Herndon, and three children have been born to them: Hattie, Burney, and Florence. Prof. Kay is well known throughout southern Missouri, and stands at the head of school work in his section, having had twenty-one years’ experience in this line of human endeavor. He established an institute for the teachers of this county, in the conduct of which he showed himself well posted and up with the times. He has done much to elevate the standard of schools in his section, and is a regular attendant of State institutes. He is self-educated, has made his own way in life but by hard and conscientious work, has made a name for himself as an educator, and has won a fair share of this world’s goods.