Surviving Loss

Despite facing more than the usual disappointments and struggles, Kay Marshall Strom ’65 has seen the grace of God turn her troubles into lifelong blessings.

Raised in a Christian home in San Francisco, Kay was the first of her family to travel to Southern California to attend Westmont. She came alone on a Greyhound bus and worked her way through college, with help from donors. Her parents first visited the campus for her graduation.

She married Larry Strom ’64, and they settled in Santa Barbara to raise their children, Lisa and Eric. As they grew up, she began writing, and her first book came out in 1981. She continued writing magazine articles, short stories and a book nearly every year. Then came 1990, which Kay calls “the year that forever marked the line between ’before’ and ’after.’” During a family vacation in England, their house burned in the Painted Cave fire. Not only did they return to deal with that tragedy, but for the previous year, Kay had been noticing odd physical and mental behaviors in her husband. Within six months of the fire he was completely disabled with a rare condition that progressively robbed him of his physical abilities, sense of judgment and his ability to reason.

Kay turned to writing as a means of support and a catharsis for her personal heartache and loss. “Seven years of progressive loss taught me how to survive, and, in time, to emerge victorious with a whole new understanding of God’s grace and faithfulness.” Her book, “A Caregiver’s Survival Guide: How to Stay Healthy When Your Loved One is Sick” chronicles Larry’s illness and eventual death.

In 1999 Kay married Dan Kline, a longtime family friend, and gained four grandchildren. As one of them observed, “Kay, you used to be my friend, but now you’re my grandma!” Her latest book, the devotional “Quiet Moments for Grandmothers,” reflects her new status.

The author of 25 books, Kay speaks at women’s retreats around the country. She has traveled to South Korea, Brazil and Japan, which has inspired a book due out in July 2001, “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Faith.” Her next project is working with her husband on a book about getting married after the age of 35.

Kay and Dan live in Santa Barbara and attend Christ Presbyterian Church, where he is a deacon and Bible study leader and she teaches Bible studies and sits on the Missions Committee.

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