KAY Muriel (Townsend) LINTON
KAY Muriel (Townsend) LINTON
When Kay Linton’s name, or Mrs. Jack (Kay) Linton’s as she preferred, comes up, the words volunteer extraordinaire, consummate organizer and inveterate volunteer are usually close by. When other parts of speech are used, Linton is always described as a true professional volunteer in the superlative sense and as positive, kind, jovial, thoughtful and respectful of her team of volunteers who never were to be called workers in her presence.
Anchorage Daily News columnist Mike Doogan said, “She was an organizer, and if you were in the vicinity, you got organized.” Gov. Tony Knowles is quoted as saying: “To know Kay was to work for Kay.” Alaska’s furrier Perry Green called Linton “a volunteer’s volunteer – someone who would never ask you to do something she wouldn’t do herself.”
Linton arrived in Anchorage in 1960. She was far away from her family and “felt stifled and unhappy, but her marriage was strong,” she told Linda Billington in an interview in 1991. She decided to “find a need and fill it” which became her motto. Thus her professional career as a volunteer organizing, chairing and championing causes and projects began.
Especially proud of two of her biggest projects, Linton knew how to celebrate the anniversaries of Alaska’s 25 years of statehood in 1984, and Anchorage’s 75 years in 1990. It only took two and a half hours to sell 950 Machetanz “Heritage of Alaska” prints signed by Alaska’s first five governors which netted $194,000. For Anchorage Linton organized the re-enactment of the town as a tent city of 1915 along Ship Creek.
She was also known for her creation of time capsules. Some of the more memorable ones are buried near the Anchorage Pioneer Schoolhouse, the Anchorage Log Cabin, the Eisenhower Memorial as well as the General Federation of Women’s Clubs base in Washington, D.C.
The wing-shaped fountain or ice sculpture on the south lawn of the Loussac Library is named after Kay Linton through a formal request of Mayor Mark Begich and an Anchorage Assembly resolution unanimously passed in 2004 because of her tireless fund raising efforts for library programs and the fountain maintenance and repairs.
Community projects with her name on them are far too numerous to name but they ranged from inventing and naming “Will U Readmore,” the library system’s mascot owl, to arranging for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to give a free public lecture in Anchorage, to planning the Miss Alaska Pageants, to chairing the governors’ picnics and staging their inaugural balls regardless of their political party, to organizing the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Gold Pan awards.
To name just a few of the major awards she received over her more than 40 years of volunteering: Alaskan of the Year, Distinguished Citizen Award from the Boy Scouts of America (the first woman to be given this award), two Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Gold Pans and YWCA Woman of Achievement.
Indefatigable to the end, in the last weeks before her death Linton had been writing a section of a book about Alaska pioneers and was worried she wouldn’t meet the deadline, said Michelle Cassano, a longtime friend. The deadline was met.View Extended Bio