Kay F. Sheiss, 71, a key participant in the development and success of numerous civic ventures in Frederick County over the last forty years, died peacefully at her home in Middletown with family and friends by her side on February 9, 2023.
Supremely organized and efficient, Kay’s career in event and project management, philanthropic support and administrative oversight began with her employment in the offices of Grove Manufacturing Company in Waynesboro, PA after graduating from Smithsburg High School in 1969. Moving to Frederick County a decade later, she provided marketing and event support for Morgan-Keller, Inc.
Her work there led to a meeting with Donald C. Linton of Linton, Shafer & Co. in 1985. Don was a leading force in projects reviving downtown Frederick, and he hired Kay to administer a major fundraising project underwriting construction of a new building for the Jeanne Bussard Center, Frederick’s work and support program for disabled adults. The successful completion of the project awakened Frederick County to its philanthropic power.
In 1986, Kay took on Don’s newest project: the creation of the Community Foundation of Frederick County. Handing over a cardboard box of papers from beneath his desk, Don asked Kay to organize the structure of this new venture. By creating events and materials sharing this new concept with potential donors and leaders, Kay laid the groundwork for the Foundation’s earliest success in building an endowment through the Share in the Future Campaign. In the early 1990’s, she managed Community Philanthropist of the Year Award events, the introduction and marketing of the Foundation’s planned giving society, publications and major occasions honoring key community leaders and special guests, including a speaking engagement by celebrated neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson. Her work with the Foundation would continue through the mid-1990’s, and in 2022 she established the Kay F. and Douglas K. Sheiss Unrestricted Endowment Fund at the Foundation.
During the same period, Al Shockley, owner of Shockley Honda and president of the Maryland School for the Deaf Foundation, asked Kay to provide organizational support for that nonprofit. Working with Al and his board, Kay managed Board of Trustee meetings, donor solicitations, production of a magazine, and implementation of an annual golf tournament.
Kay also provided administrative support for fundraising during the building expansion of Federated Charities in the late 1990’s and organized marketing and events at Everedy Square & Shab Row in downtown Frederick.
A project encouraging Frederick County Government to build a new facility for Citizens Care & Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living brought Kay back for another job with Don Linton in 2008. Overseeing events celebrating the groundbreaking that year and then the opening of the new buildings in 2012, Kay was also the co-author of the book, Heroic Work: The Story of Montevue, which chronicles the history of Frederick County’s care for the poor and elderly.
Kay was part of the community team that organized to fight the sale of Citizens Care and the closing of Montevue in 2012, and with the success of that effort, was a founding member of Advocates for the Aging of Frederick County in 2014.
She served on the Board of Directors of Advocates, overseeing AAFC’s fund supporting the unmet needs of clients seen through the Frederick County Health Department’s Adult Evaluation and Referral Service (AERS) and played a pivotal role in implementing AAFC’s grants providing assistive devices to low-income seniors. Kay’s attention to detail, ability to work with a broad range of individuals, and commitment to service made these programs work and created the template for their continuing success.
Born on November 3, 1951, and raised in Ringgold, Washington County, Kay was the daughter of the late Robert P. and Mary Grace Snowberger. She married Douglas K. Sheiss on December 19, 1972, sharing 42 years of marriage before his death in 2014.
Kay’s home was always a welcoming harbor for friends and family. She was an excellent cook and hostess who enjoyed sharing good food, impromptu late night runs to Krumpe’s Do-Nuts or a drive in the snow. She had a keen eye for architecture and style, and she designed, built and landscaped two homes that gave her great satisfaction.
Kay is survived by her daughter, Adrienne Sheiss and husband Mike Grossnickle of Myersville, sisters Patricia Warrenfeltz of Williamsport, MD, and Fay Slowe of Deltona, FL, and Doug’s siblings: Daryl and Penny Sheiss, Larwill, IN, Linda and Terry Masters, Hagerstown, Jewell Sheiss and husband Warren Chan, Petaluma, CA, as well as numerous nieces and nephews and their families.
A celebration of Kay’s life will be held privately at a later date. Those wishing to recognize Kay’s life of community service are encouraged to consider charitable gifts to Advocates for the Aging of Frederick County (advocatesforaging.org), The Community Foundation of Frederick County (frederickcountygives.org) or to a charity of your choice.