Catherine "Kay" Virginia Grandolfo
February 6, 1931 – October 12, 2018
Catherine "Kay" Catherine "Kay" Virginia Grandolfo, age 87, of St. Petersburg, Florida, formerly of Chicago, passed away peacefully on October 12, 2018, with her loving daughter, Jane, at her side.
Kay was born February 6, 1931 near Little Rock, Arkansas to the late Edward Arthur and Dessie Ann (nee Ward) Hans. Also preceding her in death are former spouses, Charlie Martin, Bill Potter, Nick Grandolfo, and Delma Allen; and sisters, Verlena Buisson and Leola Hardin.
Survivors include two daughters Jane Adair (Leal) Lauderbaugh of Colorado Springs, CO, and Patricia (Phil) Hottinger of Lisle, IL; a son, Bill Potter, of Akron, OH; two grandsons, Brian Larson and Mike (Kristen) Hottinger, a granddaughter Sarah Hottinger; and two great-granddaughters, Alyssia and Summer.
Kay arrived in Chicago at age 17 with dreams of making it big. She had music in her blood; she loved an audience and knew how to hold a crowd when singing torch songs, show tunes, ballads and blues. She was a featured singer at many Chicago venues in the early 1950s, including The Brass Rail, the Baroque Club, the Preview Club, and the Berkshire Hotel. She toured the Midwest with a variety of musicians (including jazz drummer Buddy Rich) and was once a featured singer with big band leader, Harry James.
In 1956, Kay “got out of Dodge,” by taking a two-week gig to be a featured act in Anchorage, Alaska, at the Last Chance Club. That gig lasted nearly five years. She worked six shows a night, six days a week, appeared on a weekly TV variety show, and eventually built and operated her own night club with her husband Bill, as partner. It was during the Alaska years that Kay, who would later develop a fear of flying, took nearly 20 parachute jumps with a group of renegade pilots who called themselves “The Midnight Skydivers Club.”
She relocated to Chicago in 1960 and continued to actively perform at venues across the country for several more years.
After her showbiz life, Kay became a secretary and administrator at companies such as McGraw Hill's Modern Healthcare Magazine, Chicago and North Western Transportation Company, and Arthur Andersen. Even though no longer under stage lights, people were drawn to Kay’s charisma; she had a wit, a willingness to laugh, a desire to learn, and a fierce intelligence that attracted admirers. She was a self-taught writer and an admirer of the visual arts, especially photography.
In the early-1970s Kay became an accomplished psychic and spiritual healer. She embraced housewifery around the same time, becoming a Girl Scout troop leader and impressive cook. Kay had a reputation for hosting elaborate dinner parties with crabmeat puffs, Jell-O molds, roasted meats, lasagnas and, always, lots of booze. She loved black coffee, Chivas Regal, grilled sausage, and a good battle. She devoured a newspaper a day and was a frequent opiner who contributed letters to the editor.
She was a seeker, and lover, of God and cherished her private relationship with Him.
Graveside services will be Friday, October 19, 2018 at 11:00 am at Oak Woods Cemetery (1035 E. 67th Street; Chicago, IL 60637).
- Graveside Service Friday, October 19, 2018