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Kay Kato, Suburban Cartoonist, Dead
Kay Kato, a Glen Ridge resident whose drawings told the story of suburban life in Essex County, died this weekend at Mountainside Hospital. A colorful local character, who refused to pay a dime in library fines, Kato drew for the Star Ledger for 31 years, from 1964 to 1995.
Kato (shown, right, in 1972) kept her age a well-guarded secret, but acquaintances think she was in her 90's. She lived on Chapman Place.
Her 1999 book "Park Art" featured sweetly comical drawings of familiar scenes: picnickers at the symphony at Brookdale Park, kids fishing for goldfish at a Watsessing School carnival, lawn bowlers in Watsessing Park, visitors at the Turtle Back Zoo. She donated all the proceeds and royalties from "Park Art" to the county park system. There are 48 copies of "Park Art" available for borrowing through the BCCLS library consortium.
February 7, 2006 in Goodbyes | Permalink
Wow - I have a Kay Kato drawing that she did for a Watsessing School event from the 70's.
Posted by: Anne Prince | Feb 7, 2006 10:23:50 AM
Aww, Somewhere we have a cartoon she drew for a local paper of my mom, siblings, and I leaving the GR children's library in pjs heading home after a session of the beloved bedtime story hours Mrs. Cantrell used to do on certain summer evenings in the 80s.
Posted by: Meghan | Feb 7, 2006 11:11:23 AM
Was your drawing from a Fire Safety Day on the playground by any chance??. I was in that drawing. Many years later (in the 90's) Ms Kato was covering the Talent Time Show in Bloomfield, and drew my 5 y/o daughter in her column.
Posted by: jan-o | Feb 7, 2006 3:34:23 PM
As a classmate of Jeanne's since elementary school, I had the pleasure of knowing Kay Kato, not just as an artist, but a wonderful person and Mom. She will be missed, but her terrific cartoons will live on forever, and Jeanne has continued the exceptional talent.
Posted by: JoanneM | Feb 7, 2006 7:13:30 PM
I was in one of her drawings as the guitar player in a band playing at a square dance in Roseland (the town...not the ballroom) in the early 1980's
Posted by: Bob Mellman | Feb 7, 2006 10:12:53 PM
Thank you so much for all your nice comments and memories. I know she would be pleased. She loved her art and making people smile with her cartoons. As her daughter, I can tell you she would be happy to know you all still keep them. She's been a great influence on me and my art and will continue to be my inspiration.
Posted by: Jeanne Benas | Feb 8, 2006 10:57:03 AM
Jan - no, it was for a carnival/fun day type of event.
Posted by: Anne Prince | Feb 8, 2006 11:10:10 AM
Very nice site. I enjoy your webcam the most. Beautiful scenery! Keep up the great work.
Posted by: fioricet | Jan 27, 2009 12:41:39 AM
I have a personal pic of me drawn by Kay Kato and signed by her, is it worth anything?
Posted by: Jerry | Aug 27, 2012 8:56:29 PM