Kaye M Ronsman

August 13, 1948April 2, 2014

Kaye Mary Ronsman, 65, of Tucson, Ariz., died April 2, 2014 of lung cancer. As she did with all things in life, Kaye managed her terminal illness with acceptance, practicality, and grace. One of seven children of Rose and Henry Ronsman of Green Bay, Wis., Kaye was a beloved spouse, sister, aunt, and friend.

Kaye graduated from Green Bay West High School (1966). She earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh (1975). She earned her degree as a geriatric nurse practitioner (1979) and her master’s degree in nursing (1980) from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Throughout her career as a geriatric nurse practitioner, Kaye was a respected teacher and clinician. In both her professional and personal life, her love of the elderly was radiant.

In 1979, Kaye met her life partner, Kathy Phelan. In 1981, the couple moved to Tucson where, as one of the first generation of master’s prepared geriatric nurse practitioners, Kaye was recruited as a lecturer at the University of Arizona College of Nursing (1981-1987). In 1988, eager to do more clinical work, Kaye joined the Geriatric Extended Care team (now the VA Community Living Center) at Tucson Veterans Hospital (1988 - 2003 and 2008 - 2013), where she had a rewarding and satisfying career. She was proud of her colleagues, their teamwork, and the care they provided. When a family caregiving opportunity took Kaye and Kathy back to Green Bay for a few years, Kaye joined the Nursing Assistant Faculty at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (2006 - 2008).

Kaye spent the last months of her life in the loving care of her spouse, Kathy, and her cherished sister, Diane. The three may hold the Tucson record for the most games of Bingo played without a win. Kaye loved to gamble, especially poker. She loved Sabino Canyon, pets, and picking wild blackberries. Kaye was a calm, practical, self-contained person with little time for small talk. She treated people with respect and dignity. If you were lucky enough to listen to her tell stories, she revealed her keen observations of people and her compassionate humor. If you were in the right place at the right time, or over 80 years of age, you would be treated to her smile. Kaye’s smile was like a welcoming door opening to you.

Kaye was preceded in death by her parents Rose and Henry; her brother Tom; sisters-in-law Mary, Irma, Audrey, and Patricia; and brother-in-law Tom Van Veghel. She is survived by her spouse, Kathy Phelan; sister, Diane Olson (David); brothers Bob (Joan Schleis), Jerry (Denise), Ron, and Pat (Sharon); and sister-in-law Jane. Kaye’s nieces and nephews, great-nieces and nephews, and great-great nieces and nephews total more than 70. The youngest will all miss their Aunt Kaye for the penny candy bag she always brought to the Camp Susan family reunions. The older ones will also miss that candy bag, not for the candy, but for the aunt whose unobtrusive thoughtfulness and generosity was the real gift she enjoyed giving them. Arrangements under the direction of Heather Mortuary & Chapel, Tucson, AZ.


Kaye M Ronsman

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Lee Crosby

April 22, 2014

So many ways to describe Kaye - calm, cool, collected, bright, dedicated, kind, thoughtful. I could go on and on. Working with her at the VA was so great. When ever I would hand-off a patient to her care from my care, I knew they would receive the best care. Proud to have been a colleague and friend. Lee Crosby

John Jachna

April 15, 2014

It was my pleasure and honor to work with Kaye at Tucson VA. I missed her when she moved out of state--and even more after hearing this news. She is fondly remembered.


April 12, 2014

This is part of an email Kaye sent me a couple of months ago:
"Kathy and my sister Diane fuss over me and pamper me all day everyday and I feel nestled in fluffy love. lol!"
"Enjoy all the little things that you do without giving it a second thought, Iike walking down a hall feeling fine."
Kathy and Diane, thanks for taking such great care of Kaye, and ushering into her next great adventure! What an awesome gift. Kaye is wherever we are when we think of her!

Shirley (Welter) Jauquet

April 11, 2014

I remember "Big Kaye" as my all-time favorite baby sitter. Since there was another Kaye in the neighborhood ("Little Kaye" Nelson) she was fondly called "Big Kaye". She was so much fun and was like a big sister to me and my 5 brothers and sisters. I remember her letting us braid her hair and doing all sorts of crafts with her. My mom (Elaine Welter) was especially fond of her and asked me to send this sad news out to all of my siblings. She has touched so many lives. The world lost a simply wonderful person when Kaye passed away. We will always think of her fondly with good childhood memories.


April 10, 2014

Kaye, "Thanks a million" for all you've given to those around you; pt's, families and staff. You kept us on track with,"Well what's the bottom-line" during meetings and helped our dementia pt's remember your name with, "I'm Kaye, just remember"OK Kaye" Some pt's did remember but others also called you "DocKaye". Cathy I'll always remember how absolutely happy you both were last June. I hope those happy memories help you thru this difficult time. She was a very special person and will be missed by many.

Pat-Sharon Ronsman

April 9, 2014

So many wonderful memories of our sister. She will always be in our hearts. She was so blessed to have Kathy in her life, and we are so happy Kathy is part of our family. Wish we could be with you at this difficult time. Love

Jennifer Quinlan

April 9, 2014

I worked with Kaye as her dementia social worker for almost 20 years. I feared her knowledge and organization at first. I learned so much from her as she taught all of us subtley in all oour different areas of expertise. I loed and respected her for so many reasons.
She taught me to play in poker tournaments, gave me courage to go to the tournaments and lose my money. She let me sit in with her very close Nursing Heirarchy Poker Group which was quite the treat.
I will remember her always for her special gifts to all veterans, our staff and the fun and joy she can spread when "not on task". Kathy I am so glad you were able to make your marriage dream happen and allow us to be a part of the celebration.

Lesa n Laura

April 8, 2014

I can see Kaye now... looking up every single one of the ones that went before and making sure they are all well cared for...even Heaven will have a tough time keeping things up to Kaye's standards. Laura sends her love to Kaye and Margo A... She bets Margo was one of the first to greet Kaye and say thank you for all you did! Sending all the best Kathy, Lesa and Laura

April 8, 2014

Kaye was an amazing nurse and nurse practitioner! My years of working with her at the VA - job sharing our one position - include some of my fondest memories of Kaye. My deepest sympathies to Kathy and family! Hugs to Teddy!

April 7, 2014

May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.