Kay Mills – JAWS loses a legend

In Memoriam l

We have very sad news.  Our beloved Kay Mills died Thursday, Jan. 13 in Santa Monica, Calif.  She had a sudden heart attack.

Kay has been a part of JAWS since it began, generous with her time, money and talents.  She was key in establishing the Eileen Shanahan Fund for a speaker at JAWS Fall Camp, mentored and nurtured countless young women on journalism and writing and has been a vital part in the growth and leadership of JAWS.

Kay was an award-winning journalist, author of five books, teacher and so much more.  She had been keeping many of us abreast of her latest project — a mystery novel that she’d been working on during her many visits to Paris.

For more information about her life and work you can go towww.kaymills.com or the Los Angeles Times obit.

Your comments, stories and tributes are welcome here and on the JAWS Facebook Page.

Memorial donations for the Mary Katherine Mills Scholarship Fund  may be  sent to the Penn State University College of the Liberal Arts, Dean’s  Office,  111 Sparks Building, University Park, Pa.  16802.

Kay’s friends are planning memorials and gatherings across the country including Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, Calif.   Details will be posted when they are available.

11 Responses to Kay Mills – JAWS loses a legend

  1. Such sad, unexpected news. I’m in shock. I was still savoring Kay’s wonderful holiday letter and hoping to go to a movie or lecture with her soon. She was always up for culture of any sort, and we had many memorable (and non-memorable) nights in L.A. the past five years. There’s nothing on the LAT site yet, so please post any information about services. – Allison Engel

  2. Hard to imagine a JAWS camp without Kay. She was a great treasure for women journalists everywhere. i’ll remember her as one of the women who paved the way and made it easier for the rest of us. Bless you, Kay.

  3. I’m with you, Fish, can’t imagine JAWS without Kay. I’m going to make a donation right now in her name.

  4. Kay was fearless. She left a steady job because she believed there was an audience for serious nonfiction about women and civil rights figures, and she proved that to be true. She dug and dug, finding the untold anecdote, the unheralded pioneer and the unexamined trends in our common history. She then told those tales so that the rest of us could understand why it mattered.

    Her work took her to Montana Indian reservations, Mississippi sharecropper huts and inner-city Head Start programs in Los Angeles, not to mention the days spent in the National Archives warehouses in Washington D.C. She knew everyone, taught all of us to drink good wine, hike unexplored mountains and tell better and funnier stories. She could rail against journalism’s failings and celebrate its accomplishments. She was the heart and soul of the Journalism & Women Symposium.

  5. I was sorry to learn of the death of a newswoman who inspired me and many others to follow her into “the fourth estate.”

  6. I am totally crushed to learn of Kay’s death. She was such an inspiration. I’ve quoted her about the women’s lawsuit against the AP in my book that comes out in August and couldn’t wait for her to see it and know what a help she had been. What a loss to JAWs and to the world. What horribly sad news.

  7. Kay introduced me to JAWS with her vibrant enthusiasm for all it meant to her and the value it holds for so many women journalists. Not long ago I asked Kay to write a reflective essay for Nieman Reports about the road women have traveled in journalism since the time she started—as a way to draw attention to the terrific essays in “The Edge of Change.” Let me share her words with you through this link: http://www.nieman.harvard.edu/reports/article/102534/Measuring-Progress-Women-as-Journalists.aspx

  8. Kay Mills helped develop the JAWS system and worked it well.
    I cannot remember how many times she contacted me during my 20-year tenure at Western Kentucky University seeking names of people she might interview for her projects.
    Whenever she was in Kentucky she would give me a call, though we almost never did our talking face to face. Her projects were wide in range and always on significant subjects.
    I enjoyed reading her books and looked forward to conversations at JAWS camp. Guess we’ll have to make up for her absence by seeking her qualities in others. We are all richer for having known her. — Jo-Ann Huff Albers

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