June 4, 1934 - March 31, 2024


attachment-Mary Ek

Mary Catherine (Kay) Ek, 89, died peacefully, in her sleep, on Easter morning, March 31, 2024. Her passing happened one year and two days after her husband died (March 29, 2023). A Mass of Christian burial will take place at Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church (1900 Wellesley Ave.) in St. Paul, MN at 10:30 am on Monday, April 8, 2024 with visitation at 9:30 am. Rev. William Lies, CSC, Provincial Superior Congregation of Holy Cross, U.S. Province will preside.

Kay was born on June 4, 1934, in Peoria, IL to Otto and Valentina Schwenk. The family later moved to Murdock, MN, and then to St. Cloud. Kay graduated from Cathedral High School and went on to earn a broadcasting degree at Brown Institute in St. Paul. She also spent two years at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. She treasured her college summers spent in Glacier National Park where she met famous actors who were filming Westerns. She then had a radio career in the Detroit and Phoenix markets. Kay married David G. Ek on August 5, 1961, at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, MN. They raised three children (Susanne, Thomas, and Joseph) and had six grandchildren (David, Anna, William, Andrew, Carolynn, and Matthew).

In 1972, Kay was asked to attend the first-ever Billings Ovulation Method Teacher Training in the United States. She brought the Natural Family Planning (NFP) method (developed in Australia) back to the Diocese of St. Cloud where it flourished. She often said that without Dave’s help, she could never have done it. She was the Director of NFP for the Diocese of St. Cloud from 1972 to 2004 when she retired. Kay was a national leader and served on several boards including the National NFP Advisory Board to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, The Human Life & NFP Foundation, and was elected president of the U.S. Billings Method affiliate (BOMA-USA) in 1996. She also served as an appointee of Governor Tim Pawlenty as a lay representative on his Marriage and Family Therapy Board. She and Dave served as a Lay Representative Couple for the Permanent Diaconate Board for the Diocese of St. Cloud. She was also a member, with Dave, of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

Kay enjoyed traveling with Dave to many parts of the world, Australia, Europe, Guatemala, Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean. But she most especially loved spending time with family and attending her grandchildren’s sporting and theatre events.

Kay is survived by a daughter, Susanne; sons Thomas (Mary) and Joseph along with six grandchildren; David, Anna, William, Andrew, Carolynn, and Matthew, sisters Margaret Sinclair of Colorado Springs, CO, and Mary Thormann of Pittsboro, NC along with nieces and nephews and cousins.

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