Cover photo for Kay Rothgery Karvasale's Obituary
Kay Rothgery Karvasale Profile Photo

Kay Rothgery Karvasale

May 18, 1943 — April 7, 2024

Sun Prairie, WI / Richardson, TX

Kay Rothgery Karvasale, age 80, passed away peacefully in Richardson, Texas, on Sunday, April 7, 2024. 

Born on May 18, 1943, in Elyria, Ohio, Kay spent her early school years in Grafton, then attended and graduated from Laurel School in Shaker Heights in 1961. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Ohio State University and taught second grade. After she moved to Wisconsin, she worked as an educational aide in the DeForest school system from 1989-1996 while she attended UW-Madison to get certified as a reading specialist, then taught Title 1 Reading for the Poynette school district from 1996-2005 before she retired. Going above and beyond, she had a heart for each of her students—especially the challenging ones!—and they loved her right back. On more than one Christmas Eve, anonymous gifts showed up on the doorsteps of the kids she knew wouldn’t be getting a visit from Santa. When she ran into her former students years later, they often told her, “I could never forget you, Mrs. Karvasale.” 

Kay loved being a mom. She got her wish to have a baby and adopt a baby when she got pregnant with Lori and, six years later, adopted Amy. While they were young, she stayed at home to raise them. “Lori’s Day” and “Amy’s Day,” where she surprised her girls at school and stole them away to spend a day alone with her every semester, were some of their most special memories. That and the yellow-and-orange Tupperware trays and matching bowls she had waiting for them when they got off the bus, filled with chips and dip for Lori and Pop-Tarts for Amy! 

Kay was also blessed to be a “mom” to her two nieces, Kathy and Julie, and her nephew, David, for a few years when Lori was a toddler. They’ll never forget getting picked up at the bus stop to go to Grant’s in Medina (and sometimes Bix’s on the square) for an early dinner. And when Lori met and married Pat many years later, he became the son she never had and her favorite person. So much so, that she even shared her morning newspaper with him. After she read it, of course.   

An amazing grandmother, Kay made it a point to spend one-on-one time with each of her three grandchildren—Kyle, Alek, and Maddy—doing what they liked best. Kyle will forever be convinced no one else will ever make a better grilled cheese. For the almost four years he had cancer, they went on weekly field trips to Rocky Rococo in Madison for his favorite breadsticks and to play the games. After his family moved to Texas, he called Grandma anytime he made the ninety-minute drive home from college to share everything going on in his life. 

Alek’s pick during his turn with Grandma was the ball pit at the McDonald’s in Waunakee. After he played for as long as he wanted, she always ordered him a happy meal to go. She’d tell him she was sure there was a cow in her backseat because he chewed so loud. As he got older, he’d ask her to pray for whatever he was worried about, certain she was the only one God listened to. When she came to Texas to visit, she tried his version of grilled cheese—a quesadilla—and asked him to make it for her all the time. And he changed her opinion on “people with tattoos” the second he got his first one.  

Because Maddy moved to Texas the summer she turned five, she missed a lot of those years her brothers spent with Grandma. But she remembers going to Ella’s Deli in Madison, eating the ice cream, and riding the carousel. And she’ll never forget the kitty stories she begged Grandma to make up instead of reading her books when she spent the night. Those stories continued on in phone calls for many years. 

While Kay grew up in Ohio and eventually settled in Wisconsin, she spent some time in Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Florida. And she was lucky enough to live in Hawaii as well. Following a stroke and other health issues, she moved to Texas to be with Lori (and her grandkids)—fully embracing the South by falling in love with fried okra, boiled shrimp, and Braum’s chunky cappuccino ice cream. 

Kay went on hospice care in October 2023 and spent the last week of her life surrounded by her family before she went home to be with Jesus. And, as was fitting, she waited to let go until she was alone with her favorite person—her son-in-law, Pat. 

Daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, aunt, teacher, friend, organizational guru, super planner, football lover, weather-channel watcher, and Law & Order addict, Kay was a huge part of so many lives and will be greatly missed.  

Kay is preceded in death by her parents, Hal Joseph Rothgery and Jeanne Francis Park Rothgery. Kay is survived by her brother, Bernard Hal Rothgery; her daughters, Lori Freeland (Patrick), Amy Weber; her grandchildren, Kyle Freeland (Samantha), Alek Freeland, and Madeleine Freeland; her nieces Kathy Hrivnak (Ron), Julie Norris, and her nephew, David Rothgery.  

A graveside service will be held for family and friends at Union Cemetery outside of Waunakee in Vienna, Wisconsin (located on Highway 113, south of Cuba Valley Road and north of Maier Road) at 11 a.m. on Friday, July 5, 2024. Lunch to follow. Her family would love to see you there!

Please share your memories of Kay here on her tribute wall.


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