MAY 26, 1953 - OCTOBER 28, 2019 Kay Ruthven Hagan, 66, passed away peacefully at her home in Greensboro the morning of October 28, 2019. Janet Kay Ruthven was born on May 26, 1953, in Shelby, NC, to Jeanette Chiles Ruthven and Joe P. Ruthven. Her parents met at the University of South Carolina. Her father, the first in his family to attend college, served in the Navy during World War II, then moved the family to Lakeland, FL where he turned a warehouse for his tires into a real estate warehousing business and served as mayor of Lakeland. Kay grew up an avid dancer, helping choreograph and perform in the grand opening of Disney World in 1971. She graduated from Lakeland High School and attended Florida State University where she studied ballet and received her bachelor's degree in American studies. After a semester interning on Capitol Hill for her late uncle, Lawton Chiles, former US Senator and Governor of Florida, she was drawn to pursue a law degree. She enrolled at Wake Forest University where she met her husband of 41 years, Charles T. Hagan III (Chip). They married on December 27, 1977 in Lakeland, FL during Christmas break of her final year. She and her family still laugh at the bridesmaid dresses done in Christmas plaid. Kay received her JD from Wake Forest University School of Law in 1978. Kay and Chip moved to his hometown of Greensboro, where she worked for a decade in the trust and private bank divisions of North Carolina National Bank (now Bank of America) before leaving to focus on her three children. She found a passion in fundraising for various non-profits in the Greensboro community. She volunteered for Governor Jim Hunt's 1992 and 1996 gubernatorial campaigns, serving as his Guilford County chair. In 1998, he encouraged her successful run for the North Carolina Senate, where she defeated her first incumbent. While in Raleigh she worked tirelessly for Guilford County, rising to become one of the chairs of the powerful Appropriations Committee. Kay passed bills to create a financial literacy curriculum for North Carolina schools, to provide funding to test a backlog of rape kits, and to secure the High Point Furniture Market's place as an economic engine for the state. She balanced her work in Raleigh with her commitments at home, making it back for soccer games and carpools on Fridays so as not to miss out on the latest tween scoop. She was always sure to fit in her 3 hour "meetings" with the BBC (no, not that one, but the affectionately termed "Breakfast Biscuit Club"), a group of women who remained dear to her throughout her life. In 2007 she initially turned down requests to run for the United States Senate. Persuaded by her children that she could make a difference for the entire nation, she reconsidered. Her whole family volunteered on her campaign, each logging hundreds of hours in the car across North Carolina's 100 counties. She emerged victorious in 2008, unseating another incumbent to become North Carolina's first female Democratic senator. During her tenure in the US Senate, Kay served on the Armed Services Committee where she chaired the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee; the Banking Committee; the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee, where she chaired the Family and Children's Services Subcommittee; and the Small Business Committee. Coming from a proud military family herself, she was especially proud of her work with military families. Most notably she introduced and passed a bipartisan bill to provide healthcare for military families exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune and worked with Senator John McCain to save a tuition assistance program for military spouses. She touted NC's strong military record and visited with troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan 3 times. Other proud moments include passing the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Affordable Care Act, and standing up to support marriage equality. She wanted the hallmark and legacy of her Senate tenure to be constituent service. Her office assisted thousands of North Carolinians in working through the federal bureaucracy to adopt children, reunite families, assist with keeping families in homes due to mortgage and foreclosure problems, and many other issues. She was especially proud of her efforts to bring people from both parties together. She hosted small dinners at her home in DC, where Democrats and Republicans would enjoy a meal together. They would talk about their families, inspirations, and dreams. While Kay made it a point to visit people across all 100 counties in North Carolina and understand their concerns, she also understood the importance of building strong relationships with all the people she worked with in order to find common ground. Kay was honored to have so many young people dedicate their time and service to her campaigns and Senate office. She felt a strong responsibility to help each one grow and develop as a person and in their career, treating everyone like part of her family. She modeled a balance of kindness, respect, and strength. She was particularly passionate about building up women in the workforce and public service. Kay asked each young girl she encountered to consider one day running for office and to make a difference in the world. In 2015, she was invited to become a fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics, where she taught a seminar on Money in Politics, post Citizens United. She was a life-long student and cherished the opportunity to spend time with students, seeking to inspire them to public service. In late 2015, Kay joined the law firm of Akin Gump as a senior policy consultant and sought to advise their clients on public policy issues. During this period, without the demands of a Senate schedule, she enjoyed spending even more time with her family. She loved picking her grandkids up early from daycare and taking them to the park, library, or Greensboro Science Center. She had a love of yoga, pilates, being outdoors, and anything involving family. While hiking with her family on Thanksgiving Day, 2016, Kay was bitten by a tick carrying the Powassan virus, which manifested in a viral encephalitis two weeks later. Her family is thankful for the treatment she received at MedStar Hospital in DC, UNC-Chapel Hill Hospital, and the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, a specialty brain injury rehab facility. The family will be forever grateful for the friends and family that hosted and visited us during the 9 months away from home and the incredible care provided to her by the therapists and doctors at the Shepherd Center. Kay returned to Greensboro in September 2017 and began outpatient therapy to facilitate her continued recovery. She loved being home. She made progress toward regaining her ability to walk and talk, but also experienced many setbacks. She began focusing on enjoying and celebrating her life as it was. While she had very limited mobility and difficulty speaking, her cognition was strong. She loved staying up to date on the latest news around the world, and just around the corner. Kay's face lit up whenever an old friend or a grandchild entered the room. There was understanding in her eyes and you could see her joy radiate. Her final week was spent enjoying life. Chip's 50th UNC reunion, an event where she and Chip kicked off fundraising for ArtsGreensboro as honorary co-chairs of the Arts Fund, a wedding with longtime friends, and even a private meeting with her former colleague, Joe Biden. We'd like to thank the many nurses, therapists, doctors, caregivers and friends who worked with Kay during her recovery here in the Triad, especially Lesa Edwards, Kay's caregiver for the last 2 years, who became extended family and one of Kay's best friends. In addition to her husband, Kay is survived by her three children, Jeanette Hagan, her husband Martin Wipf and their 2 children (Houston, TX); C. Tilden Hagan IV (Durham, NC); and Carrie Hagan Stewart, her husband William H. Stewart III and their 3 children (Greensboro, NC); her father, Joe P. Ruthven; her brothers, Joe L. Ruthven and his wife Karen and Greg Ruthven and his wife Kim; along with many extended nieces, nephews and cousins. She was predeceased by her mother, Jeanette C. Ruthven, in 1982. Her stepmother of 33 years, Judy Ruthven, also passed away on Monday, shortly before Kay. A celebration of her life will be held at First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro at 2 p.m. on Sunday, November 3. A reception will follow in the Mullin Life Center at the church. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Women To Women Fund at the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro or the ArtsGreensboro Arts Fund. Online memories may be made through www.haneslineberryfuneralhomes.com. Hanes-Lineberry N. Elm Funeral Home 515 N. Elm St.
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