Remembering Kay Hively's legacy

Lee Ann Murphy
Community Editor
The Neosho Daily News and the local community join in remembering Kay Hively who passed away this week.

Some may remember her many bylines in the Neosho Daily News while others may recall her as a smiling face at the Neosho National Fish Hatchery gift shop. For some, she was a teachers, for others a mentor, and for many she was a friend. She was a volunteer for numerous groups and her writings were known far outside the region. She was an author as well. Kay Hively passed away earlier this week and her loss was felt throughout Neosho and the surrounding area.

On Monday, Neosho Daily News former editor John Ford, said, "I just received word that Kay Hively passed away this morning. Kay meant so much to so many of us at the Daily and the community as well."

Hively was a reporter, editor, and columnist for the newspaper for many years. Until not quite two years ago, Hively still wrote articles and a weekly column, As Time Goes By. Her last column appeared in early September 2018. She most recently wrote some columns for The Turner Report.

Hively wrote about interesting people, places and history.

"Kay was one of those unique reporters who truly loved her community and the people who lived within it," Todd Higdon, a former Neosho Daily News editor and reporter said. "I have known Kay since the 1990’s when she was instrumental in the creation of the Newtonia Battlefields Protection Association. Since that time we have worked together at the Daily and later we became neighbors. She was always someone you could depend on and her words will be missed."

Higdon worked with Hively at the Neosho Daily News from 2003 until 2018, when both left the paper.

In addition to her work at the Daily, Hively wrote for many other publications. She penned thirty different serial stories that ran in numerous newspapers. These were produced in partnership with The News-Journal´s Newspapers in Education program and the Missouri Press Foundation. Some were also published far outside Missouri, in more than thirty states and a few foreign countries.

As an author, she wrote a book about Camp Crowder with a cover drawn just for the book by Beetle Bailey artist Mort Walker. "Red Hot And Dusty: Tales of Camp Crowder" has enjoyed popularity for decades. She also wrote "I'll Fly Away: The Life Story of Albert E. Brumley" with Albert E. Brumley Junior and several history books, "We Gather Together: A History of Newton County, Missouri Churches,"Missouri At This Place: A History of The Neosho National Fish Hatchery" and "The Tipton Ford Tragedy" with local historian and author Larry James.

Hively also taught courses including creative writing at Crowder College in Neosho and was also a founding member of a local writers' group, The Writers of The Six Bulls (the name adapted from an early one for the Ozark region_.

Her first songwriting effort, with Brumley, brought a Grammy nomination in 1999 for a song recorded by Merle Haggard and Brumley, one of the three co-written by Hively on the "Two Old Friends" album.

As a volunteer, Hively was extremely active. As one of the Friends of the Neosho Fish Hatchery, Hively played a role in keeping the hatchery open in the 1980's when the federal government considered closing it. She was also active in the Carver Birthplace Association and a key member of the Newtonia Battlefield Association. Tom Higdon, Newtonia, recalled Hively's strong participation in the group.

"I've known Kay for over 30 years,since we began the Newtonia Battlefield Association," Higdon said. "Kay was the one who got us started. She was always our spark plug, I called her our spark plug. She was the one who kept us going. Kay was always there at all our meetings. Kay was always there for all the events and the open house (at the Newtonia Mansion). She continued (with the organization) until her health got to the point where she couldn't continue."

Hively served as a volunteer for numerous groups and places. She also was elected to the Neosho City Council.

John Ford shared about Hively. "My mind is sifting through the many hundreds of memories I have out there. Foremost, she loved her family -- including a circle of friends she considered family -- with all of her heart. Always there to lend an ear and extend a helping hand. And always, her faith shined through. I love her like another mother, and have no doubt she is currently reuniting with old friends and loved ones."

Each fall, Hively shared a favorite poem by Rachel Field and she also quoted in her final column for the Neosho Daily.

Something Told The Wild Geese

Something told the wild geese

It was time to go.

Though the fields lay golden

Something whispered,—‘Snow.’

Leaves were green and stirring,

Berries, luster-glossed,

But beneath warm feathers

Something cautioned,—‘Frost.’

All the sagging orchards

Steamed with amber spice,

But each wild breast stiffened

At remembered ice.

Something told the wild geese

It was time to fly,

Summer sun was on their wings,

Winter in their cry.

Tom Higdon spoke for her family, friends and the community with these words:

"We have a lot to be thankful for with Kay - I wish she'd had a few more years."

-Kay Hively's obituary appears in today's edition. No services are planned. Contributions may be made to Friends of the Neosho National Fish Hatchery, c/o Clark Funeral Home, PO Box 66; Neosho, MO 64850.