Kay Eleanor Phillips 1939-2020
Kay Ahrens passed away peacefully at the Elizabeth House, Four Seasons Hospice Care Center on November 3, 2020 in Asheville, North Carolina. Kay was born in 1939 to Bud and Opal Phillips in Remsen, Iowa.
Kay was raised in Remsen where she attended St Mary’s Catholic schools. She later attended college at the University of Iowa and was a lifelong Hawkeye fan. Kay spent many summers in Okoboji, IA and the area was always near and dear to her heart. It was during one of these summer days at the lake that she met the love of her life – Don "Shakey” Ahrens. They were a fun-loving couple that turned into a partnership that lasted the test of time. Together they were a force to be reckoned with. They began their business empire operating many local nightclubs including The Park View, The Hut, The Peacock and The Hi Ho Club. Eventually they joined a group of local business people and bought into Arnolds Park Amusement Park. However, Kay’s true calling was in the fashion business. She grew up working at the clothing store, Greens of Okoboji. In 1974, she took that experience and opened their first store...the Clothes Peddler. It was very successful and they soon opened other stores in towns and cities across Northwest Iowa including Okoboji, Spencer, Cherokee, Sioux City and Ames. Kay was a first-class business woman and mentored many women along the way.
Kay was a voracious reader and loved nothing more than to be curled up next to a fire reading a book and looking out over West lake Okoboji. Kay was very active in the Iowa Great Lakes Chamber of Commerce, the Lakes Art Center and the Okoboji Yacht Club. She was very proud to serve on the “Save our Park” team that help to stop the sale and destruction of her beloved Arnolds Park Amusement Park. She and Don remained actively involved in the amusement park and joined any fund-raising event that they could.
Kay is survived by her son Rick Ahrens and daughter-in-law Jean Ahrens of Asheville, North Carolina; grandsons Jonathan Ahrens and Jackson Ahrens; brother Rick Phillips and his wife Pam Phillips of Omaha, NE; sister Connie Galles of Phoenix, AZ. Also left to cherish her memory are special nieces and nephews and many amazing friends. Kay was preceded in death by her parents, Bud and Opal Phillips; husband, her friend and partner, Don Ahrens; son Ryan Ahrens. Kay suffered her greatest sorrow in life with Ryan’s tragic death at the early age of 17.
Special thanks to all the care givers and friends that helped to keep Kay feeling safe, happy and loved. Starting in Okoboji with her loved ones, friends, neighbors and the wonderful team at Quality Home Healthcare. Then our new friends in North Carolina that showed us what southern charm and hospitality is all about, including the amazing staff that made us feel like family at Harmony at Reynolds Mountain where Kay resided in Asheville. We greatly appreciate the special folks at Four Seasons Hospice team that cared so well for all of us and in the end as well as the kind and compassionate staff members at The Elizabeth House in Flat Rock, NC. A funeral service will be held at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Milford, IA on Saturday November 28 at 10:00 a.m. Due to the current pandemic the service will also be live streamed and a Celebration of Life will be held at a later time. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given in Kay’s name that will go to Historic Arnold's Park Inc. Cards and memorials can be sent to the park directly, in Kay’s name or to Rick Ahrens at 37 Newbridge Parkway #401 Asheville, NC 28804.
Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.ashevillemortuaryservices.com
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