Katharine “Kay” Worden of Jamestown, Rhode Island passed away peacefully in her sleep on Tuesday, September 8, 2015. She was 90 years old. Kay lived a remarkable and interesting life ranging from service on the boards of major corporations, to a career as an internationally recognized sculptor, to activism in politics and local causes.
Kay was born in New York on May 4, 1925, the youngest of three children, to Philip G. and Katharine P. Cole. She attended boarding school at the Potter school in Tucson, Arizona, and then Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. In 1944, at age 18, as a wartime bride she married Dr. Frederic Worden of Saranac Lake, New York. Fred was a renowned neuroscientist serving first at Johns Hopkins, then as a founding faculty member at the U.C.L.A. Brain Research Institute, a job that took the family to Pasadena, California in 1952, and then to Brentwood, California where Kay and her family raised quarter horses. Fred’s career then took the family to the Boston area in 1969 where he served as the director of the Neuroscience Research Program at MIT. He and Kay were married for 51 years until his death in 1995.
During her time in California Kay raised 5 children, concentrating on her home activities and a successful tennis career. She was also active as a volunteer for Head Start in the Watts area of Los Angeles immediately following the 1965 Watts riots where she spent time in an effort to make a difference in the racial divides that led to the riots. She entered the political fray in the late 1960’s when she embarked on a national campaign to end the Vietnam War. In typical Kay fashion, she did it her way: she traveled the country placing large ads in local papers and meeting with locals to discuss war issues. When her activities were disrupted by then President Nixon during the 1972 presidential campaign in Miami, Florida, Kay sued for violation of her civil and constitutional rights. She was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union. In 1969, shortly after moving to the Boston area, she was appointed by Governor Dukakis to serve on the State Judicial Nominating Commission. She also served on the Board of Directors of the Stride Right Corporation and on the Board of Overseers of the Boston Fine Arts Museum. In 1981 Kay moved to Jamestown, Rhode Island where she was active on the Board of The Newport County Child and Family Services serving on the executive committee and on the finance committee. Her other activities included service as a Trustee of the Newport Art Museum, and on the Board of the Jamestown Community Theater where Kay appeared in many plays. She served as a member of the National Committee for the Performing Arts, as a member of the Massachusetts Common Cause Advisory Board, on the Massachusetts Executive Board of the ACLU, on the board of directors of Newport Hospital, and on the board of the Newport Health Foundation.
Locally, Kay is best know as the sculptor who created the famous “Newport Wave” that graces America’s Cup Avenue in the heart of Newport. In addition to the Wave, Kay’s sculptures can be seen locally at the Brick Market Place (the Hurdy Gurdy Man), the Jamestown Community Center (Swing High), Newport Hospital (the Nurses), at Newport’s Easton’s Beach (Each Other), The Massachusetts State House in Boston (Hands) and in the Jamestown Library (Dreams of Tomorrow). Kay sold her sculptures worldwide and was an established international artist. Her work specialized in representations of children engaged in ordinary activities, featuring motion. Her art shows included shows at: Royce Galleries in Hollywood; Gallery Francoise Besnard, Paris; Cooling Gallery, London; Gallery Schummacher, Munich; Selected Artists Gallery, New York; Art Institute of Boston; Reid Gallery, Nashville; the Boston Atheneum, and Gabrovo, Bulgaria among many others.
Kay was well known in Jamestown as an outgoing community supporter of fierce independence willing to share her opinions on everything from art to the politics of the day. Throughout her life she supported children and youth activities, focusing on young people in her artwork and in her volunteer activities. She was most proud of her children who include three lawyers, an elected official, a University Professor, and locally, Barbara Lundy owner/operator of Jamestown Fitness. The other four are Fred Worden Jr. of Silver Spring, Maryland, Dwight Worden of Del Mar, California, Phil Worden of Mt. Desert Maine, and Katharine “KC” Worden of Dunedin, New Zealand. Kay is survived by her 5 children, 6 grandchildren, and four great-grand children.
Kay was a well-known and loved member of the Jamestown Community and she will be missed. The family suggests donations to Child and Family Services, in lieu of flowers, as the best way to remember Kay. Child and Family Services can be reached at: 31 John Clarke Road, Middletown, RI 02842. Telephone 401-849-2300, Fax 401-841-8841. Or a donation can be made online at https://childandfamilyri.com/get-involved/donate.