Reverend Dr. Kay Slocum-Dillon of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, passed away peacefully on June 6, 2021, with loved ones at her side, at the Dennis and Donna Oldorf Hospice House in Hiawatha, Iowa. She is survived by her husband Paul, three children (Kerrie, Julie, Glenn), one granddaughter (Sydney) and five grandsons (Erik, Kyle, Sean, Gage, Brenden).
A memorial service to celebrate her life will be held at First Lutheran Church, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Thursday, June 17th at 11:00 A.M. Visitation with the family will be held at Cedar Memorial Park Funeral Home, Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Wednesday, June 16th from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. For details, call First Lutheran Church at (319) 365-1494.
Kay Slocum-Dillon was born Marilyn Kay Hickman on August 17th, 1936, in Glendale, California. She was drawn to music at an early age and became a virtuoso violinist, conducting the North Hollywood Baby Orchestra at age three and performing Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto No. 1 with full orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl as “Hollywood Bowl Starlight Girl 1955” at age 18.
Kay attended North Hollywood High School and was Concert Mistress/First Violin for the Burbank Symphony, North Hollywood Symphony and her high school orchestra, as well as performing in specialized musical venues. She met her husband, Jerry Slocum, in high school orchestra where he played violin second chair. Wanting to meet her, he tipped her chair back during rehearsal and introduced himself. They had a wonderful courtship that continued through college (she went to Occidental College; he went to USC). They married in March 1958 and through the years had three children – Kerrie, Julie, and Glenn.
At Occidental College, Kay majored in Education and minored in Music. After graduation, she performed regularly in musical venues including the weekly Spade Cooley television show and supported the Occidental College Board of Directors. She was also an actress in four motion pictures, including Marilyn Monroe's “Some Like it Hot” and Cecil B. Demille's (Charleton Heston) “Ten Commandments”.
Over the next three decades, Kay and her family lived in California’s San Fernando Valley, the Washington DC area, and Greenwood Village, Colorado. She dedicated herself to raising her children and being a stay-at-home mother and loved this – she was passionate about helping her children learn and teaching them to embrace adventure, the world, and their Christian faith. She continued to perform as a violinist, work as a substitute, mainly at the high school level, and was extensively involved in each church they attended with lay ministry, musical contribution (violin, vocal), and youth work (focused on high school teenagers). One of her greatest joys and accomplishments was leading a folk/rock group at the High School level which they named “Get Together” with her Falls Church congregation. This group, along with other members, produced and performed the musical “A Touch of Godspell” weekly for a period of months, reaching not only the church, but the community and the state of Virginia and the District of Columbia.
When Kay and her family moved to Greenwood Village (Denver, CO), she noted that Bethany Lutheran Church, the family's chosen church home, did not have English Handbells or a handbell program. In addition to her regular lay ministry, musical and youth/outreach work, she founded a program and chaired a funding drive for purchase of a three-octave set of English handbells. Upon purchase and shipment of the bells from Scotland, she organized and conducted the church handbell choirs for nearly two decades.
When her son Glenn turned 16, Kay decided it was time to go back to a full-time professional career. She served as a Senior Sales Representative to Professional Travel Corporation for fourteen years, utilizing her extensive communication and leadership skills to excel in this area. During this time, she realized her passion for ministry to the Lord was calling her to seminary. In her late 40s, she began to study for her master’s degree of Divinity at Iliff School of Theology, in Denver, Colorado. After four years, she dedicated herself full-time to her studies, completing both a master’s degree in Divinity and a master’s degree in Pastoral Counseling from Luther - Northwestern Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Following completion of her coursework, she was served as an intern with Senior Pastor Dan Kolander at Shephard of the Hills Church in Boulder, Colorado. After completion of this internship, she attended commencement and awaited ordination based on an acceptance to serve as a Lutheran Pastor. Several months later, she received a call from First Lutheran Church in Cedar Rapids, where Pastor Kolander had accepted a position as Senior Pastor. To both Kay and Pastor Kolander, this was a “Godinstance” moment, and Kay never looked back.
Kay and her husband Jerry moved to Cedar Rapids to embrace this opportunity, Jerry wanting to support her with the move in this chapter of her life and also understanding that most of his consulting clients were in nearby Chicago. Kay’s areas of focus at First Lutheran included Seniors Ministry and Outreach, the Stephen Ministry, Triad Leadership, and the Deacon Program. She served several times a week not only as a Chaplain, but as a medical advocate, at several Cedar Rapids hospitals, assisted living and hospice facilities.
“Pastor Kay”, as she was known to her beloved parishioners and Cedar Rapids/Iowa community/family, poured her life into her work as a pastor, especially to the seniors of the congregation as well as the homeless and disadvantaged individuals in Cedar Rapids. She treated people who were homeless and those who lived on the economic and social margins of the community with full dignity and concern. She had a keen attention to detail, and she had a knack for gathering parishioners and others to give of their time and energy to help people in need; whether moving, fixing up a house, or providing transportation. Many said that Pastor Kay was able to lead people to help and do things that were outside their comfort zones and yet also a source of satisfaction. Kay would go places others would not, such as into drug houses to help children or visiting many in prison. She was fearless.
During her ministry at First Lutheran, Kay did a large portion of the funerals, and many families from the wider community sought out Kay to be their pastor in time of need. Even though they might not be members, they would say, "I belong to Pastor Kay's church." More than any specific ministry or task, Kay will be remembered for how she made people feel, and how she expressed the love of Jesus.
Pastor Kay stated that she her goal was to be the “Mother Theresa of Cedar Rapids” and she passionately and energetically embraced this goal. She endeavored to reach her congregation through personal and life-based examples in her sermons, and being an avid “Star Trek” fan, she often used content and life-lesson material from episodes and wore a mock Star Trek communicate on her robe when using this content. She was proud to be living in Iowa as this was the birthplace (in the year 2233) of James T. Kirk, captain of the Starship Enterprise, on the original Star Trek Series. In addition to having Mother Theresa as a role model, she aspired to the leadership model of Captain Kathryn Janeway on the Starship Voyager.
Kay organized and led several senior group tours to various locations in the United States and globally. On one trip, the airlines lost her luggage on the way to Europe. She donned a couple of borrowed outfits during the trip, stating afterwards that she preferred this minimalist approach as it enabled her to channel her focus to those on the trip and their care and surroundings. The luggage was never recovered.
In her life and her ministry, which became one in the same, the Reverend Dr. Kay Slocum knew no bounds in pursuing her passion. She was delivered a crushing blow in November 2002 with the sudden tragic loss of her beloved husband Jerry. She was deeply saddened but nonetheless served as a pillar of support and optimism for her children and grandchildren, First Lutheran family, and all who knew her - her faith never wavering. Her doctoral coursework already completed, she finished and submitted her dissertation in senior studies and aging, dedicating her efforts and research to her husband Jerry. She was conferred a doctoral degree of Ministry from Luther Seminary (formerly Luther - Northwestern).
In 2006, romantic light and love came into Pastor's Kay's life as she was courted by a long-time member of First Lutheran, her second husband Paul. Paul served as an usher for the congregation and provided significant support to the church Outreach Program, where Kay and Paul met. In September 2007, Kay and Paul were married in Galena, Illinois, surrounded by family in a ceremony performed by Pastor Kolander. Paul suddenly became partner/husband to an amazing woman, stepfather to three children, and grandfather of six grandchildren – doing all of this with love, compassion, sensitivity, and grace.
Kay and Paul continued a longstanding tradition of the yearly extended family vacation to Mexico as a reprieve to the Iowa winters. She returned to Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo for nearly 30 years. It was a beautiful spiritual place where miracles were known to happen.
Kay retired from full-time ministry and from First Lutheran Church in June 2014 and continued to minister through performance of local weddings, funerals, and leadership activities. She ministered at First Lutheran for 22 years, the longest-standing pastor to do so. She continued to travel, visiting family and friends as well as domestic and international destinations.
In 2017, Kay learned she had an untreatable medical condition. She insisted this would not “define her” and it did not. Kay was cared for at home during her final few years, possible through the tireless and loving efforts of her husband Paul and her personal assistant, Wendy.
Paul will miss not only his wife Kay, but his best friend. He is not saying goodbye but rather: “See you down the road sweetheart. I love you more!”
Her family, the people of First Lutheran and the community will never need to be reminded to “remember to remember” Pastor Kay. She will live on in our community and in our hearts forever.
In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests that memorial contributions be made in Kay’s honor to First Lutheran Church Community Outreach Program: 1000 3rd Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52403.