J. Kay Pierce (89) passed away unexpectedly in her home Thursday morning, April 27,2023. Born Julie Kay Frautschy on January 5, 1934, in DeKalb, Illinois, as the second child of four to Ray and Lois Frautschy, she was raised from the age of 3 through high school in Sycamore, IL, “Where Life Offers More”. Kay was an active girl growing up and was a full-fledged Spartan, involved in band, GAA, the yearbook, Homecoming Court, and school and church choirs. She also had a keen interest in sports and shared her father’s passion for the Chicago Cubs. Shortly after graduation Kay and a girlfriend chose to attend Weaver Airline School in Kansas City to become reservationists. That led her to employment with Western Airlines out in Los Angeles. There was also a certain Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton who worked his way into her heart. Kay married Charles (Chuck) Vernon Pierce, a DeKalb native, on August 2, 1953. After his discharge and a brief move back to Sycamore, Kay and Chuck headed to Iowa City, Iowa, where they spent the next 4 years. Kay raised 2 toddlers in the University of Iowa’s married housing Quonset huts (she hated that name) while Chuck attended school, played football, and did odd jobs around town to provide support. That period of time became the foundation of all things Hawkeyes and nothing defines the Pierce Family more. In December 1957, they moved back to Sycamore to begin his banking career and their active and fulfilling life.
Over the next 30 years Kay and Chuck raised 5 boys 14 years apart in age, and life became characteristic of visits to the ER, jock straps, scouting, weekend and vacation camping, volunteerism, and career advancement moves through (in order) South Beloit, IL, Elburn (Aurora), IL, Mason City, IA, and eventually Johnston, IA. Kay’s primary responsibility was providing a strong, disciplined home environment. She was in-charge and had Chuck’s unconditional love and support, and the boys knew it. They tested her at times but quickly learned that there were consequences and better choices to be made. Kay did find some opportunities to work outside the home as the boys grew up. While in Elburn she worked at Kaneland High school, initially in the kitchen but more so as Administrative Assistant to the Principal. Additionally, after the move to Johnston, Kay worked seventeen years as a legislative clerk in the State of Iowa House of Representatives. She excelled at that job because of strong organizational, personal, and attention to detail skills. That career brought much joy, pride, friendships, and fulfillment to Kay. In subsequent years she reaped the rewards of having established a deep-rooted family that was rapidly branching out. Her front door was always open, and she looked forward to welcoming the boys’ friends. There were weddings of course, and Kay finally enjoyed some female companionship around the house occasionally. Kay and Chuck traveled many miles following grandkids activities, and there was always a beloved dog in the Pierce household. Fritz was the first, a dachshund, followed by Toby, a Scottish Terrier, and finally Abby, a Westie. Powers Lake, Wisconsin was the favorite family summer place for over 70 years. Cooking was therapy for Kay. She was a great cook and even published her own cookbook, and she was known for putting together awesome Hawkeye tailgates. During her golden years she became a prolific reader and jigsaw puzzler, and she decorated for all seasons and holidays, especially Christmas. She followed the Hawkeyes closely and preferred to watch a sporting event on TV over most everything.
Kay is survived by her sons Scott (Robin) of Johnston,IA, Greg (Jeannine) of Batavia, Il, and Doug (Pam) of Crystal Lake, IL, her sisters Polly (Dick) Carter of Sycamore, Il, and Linda (Bob) Sherman of Vero Beach, FL, thirteen grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren, and many other relatives, neighbors and friends. She will be deeply missed.
Kay was preceded in death by her parents, her brother Jerry Frautschy of Durango, CO, her husband Chuck of 61 years, and her sons Brian (Brenda) of Appleton, WI, and Kerry (Deb) of Carlisle, IA.
Visitation will be Saturday, May 13, 2023 from Noon-2:00 and the Funeral Service from 2:00-3:00, at Merle Hay Chapel, 4400 Merle Hay Rd, Des Moines, IA, 50310.