One of Carroll County's premier goodwill ambassadors, Florence Kathleen "Kay" Church, 66, died June 6 at Carroll Hospital Center.
I knew Church, whom many called "Aunt Kay," for many years.
Many knew her as the long standing receptionist at the Carroll County Office Building on North Center Street, where she worked for 20 years before retiring in 2010.
Church started working for the county in August 1988. She had worked for Black and Decker in Hampstead, the Manchester Pharmacy and the Hampstead sewing factory, before taking a job in personnel services (now called production distribution) on the bottom floor of the building.
In November 1989, she got a promotion and a raise. That moved her up to the first floor, where she subsequently found her "command station" at the main entrance of the building.
In July 2006, I wrote about her when she turned 60 years old.
"… A milestone birthday for the receptionist at the Carroll County office building information desk. … So just what does an 'information desk receptionist' do? After all, I have always been focused on the fact that she has a friendly greeting, warm smile, and almost always has cookies.
"When I wander into the building, Aunt Kay can always be counted on to tell me where to go. In my years of working for the public, I've been told 'where to go' on a number of occasions, but no one does it as nicely as Aunt Kay.
"According to our sources, Aunt Kay is part guidance counselor, honorary bailiff … tour guide and mother confessor. As for her job, Aunt Kay says she's 'taken an avocation and turned it into a career. I like people and I like talking.' "
In an interview in July 2006, Church bubbled with pride about working for Carroll County government.
"I love serving the public. Carroll County citizens are the best," she said.
She said she wished everyone could be aware of the county employees' "dedication, hard work and everything that goes into public service."
Although she lived in Manchester for many years, she was born in Bluefield, W.Va.
Asked how the tradition of the cookies began, she said, "Cookies have always been a part of who I am. Being raised in the south, when visitors arrive, you feed them. Besides, I love to bake."
For Kay Church, things were always looking up. The county was fortunate to have had her among its hundreds of great employees who work for our quality of life and future.
Funeral arrangements for Church were handled by the Eckhardt Funeral Chapel in Manchester.
According to the online obituary, "The family wishes to express their gratitude to the Hampstead Volunteer Fire Company ambulance crew for their exemplary service and care during our trying time. Donations of any amount will be accepted at both viewings to benefit this most worthy cause."
When not reminiscing about the good old days in the Carroll County Office Building, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org