Five inducted into Kent Agricultural Hall of Fame

The best way to describe Kathleen (Kay) Quinton is she is a model for young farm women across rural Canada.

The 82-year-old Palmyra resident has been an active member of her local community in farming, leading 4H, teaching adults, and promoting a healthier environment.

Kay was honoured for her lifelong dedication to the farming community as she was inducted into the Kent Agricultural Hall of Fame.

The Class of 2023 – which includes Diane and Robert Devolder of Dover Centre, plus the late Ron Anderson of Dover Centre and Doug Arbour of Chatham – were honoured during an induction ceremony at Hidden Hills Golf and Country Club in Oungah on Nov. 21.

Kay (nee Downie) was born on Dec. 29, 1940, in St. Thomas to Fred and Mary L. Downie. She married John William Quinton on June 29, 1963, and they have two sons, Christopher and Gordon.

Kay graduated from West Elgin High School and attended London Teacher’s College, graduating in 1961. She was a teacher in rural schools in Dunwich and Howard Townships for five years.

Kay was a full working partner on the farm with her husband as she assisted with the animals, hoed crops, picked stones, unloaded grain wagons, helped with hay and straw baling, drove wagons to the Co-op and painted machinery.

“All this in addition to raising two very successful sons, looking after house and meals, tending the garden, then canning and freezing produce for the winter,” read Kay’s Hall of Fame profile.

In her spare time, Kay took elderly neighbours for their appointments and cleaned the community hall before a rental.

She also helped with rabies clinics, worked during elections, helped at a daycare for special needs children, helped run bingos to raise money for the community hall and led singing at the senior home. “And in all her work, she did it selflessly and without complaint,” her profile read.

Kay was also interested in a better environment, so she helped plant numerous trees, promoted wind energy, and helped educate users of the Orford dump to sort garbage for recycling.

She belonged to the Highgate United Church, where she taught Sunday School, sang in the choir and led the music program for Vacation Bible Schools.

She belonged to the United Church Women, was President of the United Church Highgate Couples Club and the Highgate Friendship Club, and was a member of the Women’s Institute since 1972, including three years as President.

Kay taught short OMAFRA courses geared to rural women, such as nutrition, running their households, and participating in meetings and parliamentary procedures.

“These were vital sources of information in the era of relative isolation of farm women before the age of internet,” the statement read.

Kay was active in 4H as a judge and co-leader for several clubs, looked after the District Scholarship selection and promoted the opportunity to the youth at the annual 4H banquets.

Kay convened funeral lunches, dinners for the Orford Council, receptions, and other social functions at the Community Hall.

Kay is a Charter Member of the Kentish Scribes who used her calligraphy skills to write award certificates.

She used her leadership skills to hold executive positions with the Morpeth Heritage Club and the East Kent Shuffleboard Club, as she enjoyed being active.

“Kay is a well-organized, cheerful worker at home and in the community,” said Jean Gillard of the Palmyra Women’s Institute, who nominated Kay for the Hall of Fame. “Whatever challenges Kay faces, she soldiers on and does her best without complaint.”

“She should be promoted as a good model for young farm women across rural Canada,” Gillard said.

The Devolders were enshrined for adapting technology to their Devolder Farms Inc. business, which they used to advance agriculture in efficiency on economic returns and improve the environmental impact on area farms.

Anderson and Arbour were both enshrined posthumously.

Anderson farmed in Dover, Twp. and served the local agricultural sector as Chatham-Kent Agriculture Coordinator, assisting many growers and agriculture businesses with their growth and expansion opportunities.

Arbour served the former Kent County with his ambulance service, promoting education and safety courses to the rural population.

He also worked to improve the emergency response in the rural areas.

Michael Bennett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News