Kay Springwater passed away peacefully at home on January 5, 2021 from congestive heart failure. She was 88 years old. Kay was born on March 11, 1932 to Charles J. (M.D.) and Ruth Waller in Staunton, Virginia. She attended boarding school at Northfield School for Girls, now Northfield Mount Hermon, in East Northfield, Massachusetts. Following her years at Northfield, she enrolled at Howard University where she majored in German Language and Literature and then earned her M.A. in that area from Columbia University. Further graduate study was undertaken at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany which led to a German language teaching assignment at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland.
In 1963, Kay married James Harkless, and they raised their two sons in Washington, DC. Kay's interest in international student work led her to a position at American Friends of the Middle East, now AMIDEAST, where she coordinated programs for Middle Eastern and North African Students in the U.S.
Sharing her fondness for her adopted home of D.C., Kay went on to become a licensed realtor in the residential market. A woman of elegance, grace, and artistic creativity, Kay pursued actively a life-long passion for printed images. Kay enjoyed teaching photography at D.C. community centers and took commissions to photograph various family events and occasions, all the while raising her own children. Her work enhances many friends' homes. After her sons were grown and she had retired from her work careers, Kay devoted herself even more fully to her métier.
She frequented craft shows with the love of her life, Ronald Springwater, whom she married in 1987. They travelled extensively together, photographing visits to destinations such as China, Italy, St. Martin, New Mexico, Maine, California, Maryland, and her own Virginia. Kay participated in invitational workshops with distinguished photographers, including a memorable trip to Cuba in 2001. She visited the Middle East in the 1980s on work assignments for AMIDEAST while also capturing some magnificent photographs. She was an official photographer for the prestigious Smithsonian Craft Show organized by the Smithsonian Women's Committee, where she served as a Board Member for many years. Her photographs were accepted frequently for exhibition at The Art League, her principal gallery. Kay also participated in many collaborative group shows: Artomatic, Artosphere (Annual Mid-Atlantic Photography Competition), Hill Center Galleries, A. Salon, Islesboro (ME), Levine School. At these exhibits Kay won several awards. Kay's keen insights conveyed an intimacy of feeling, tone, and mood to her portraits and landscapes.
Kay is survived by her husband, Ronald; her two sons, Charles Harkless and Guy Harkless, their spouses, Aileen Hefferren and Bertha French, along with five grandchildren, (Owen and Perry Hefferren-Harkless and Josephine, Gabrielle, and Philippe Harkless); her sister, Rebecca Bright and brother-in-law,, Harry Bright, nephew, David Bright and niece, Miriam Kay Bright-Thomas and Miriam's husband Clifford Thomas; Ronald's sons, Adam Springwater and Adam's wife, Ellen and son, Sam and Joel Springwater and his wife, Elizabeth; and other extended family.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Kay's memory to the NAACP or the Smithsonian Women's Committee. A memorial service will be held when it is safe to do so.
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