This is the story of Toy Kay’s life and how she coped with living in two cultures. Born in Butte, Montana in 1924, her upbringing was solely aligned with the Chinese culture of the Qing Dynasty of the late 1800s.
Toy’s arranged marriage in 1941 at age 16 to Bill Kay brought her to Olympia, Washington, where she started work the very next day at the Kay family restaurant, Kay’s Café, located in downtown Olympia. She worked there for 33 years.
Painfully shy and programmed to be an obedient wife, Toy’s story is powerful and inspiring, a story of personal, educational and spiritual transformation. Toy found strength in her eventual college education, smart real estate investments, community involvement and faith.
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Toy Kay, 94, lives in Olympia, Washington. She founded the Olympia Area Chinese Association and has been active in several community organizations. For her efforts, Toy received the Living Legend Award of Thurston County in 2003. Toy continues to be active in Olympia. She enjoys public speaking, writing poetry and daily affirmations, the company of family and friends, and practicing meditation. After spending so many years trying to do her highest good, she is now at peace, living in her perfect now.
Janine Gates is a freelance journalist and caregiver for seniors in Olympia, Washington. She writes a community news blog, Little Hollywood.