January 30, 2017

Longtime PFLAG member, chapter leader, and former national board member Dr. Kay Heggestad, passed away on Friday, January 13, 2017. Within just a few short days, her self-penned obituary--followed up with further details from her family (a “minority report” obituary) from her loving husband Dr. Paul Wertsch--went viral.

In her role on the board, she served as the chairperson of the Policy Committee, stewarding PFLAG National policy statements on LGBTQ anti-discrimination protections and Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). Her story was also included in several PFLAG amicus briefs in support of marriage equality, including those submitted to the Seventh Circuit and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeal.

Kay’s sense of humor permeates her self-memorialization, and those in the PFLAG family and beyond who knew her can hear her voice within the lines. According to Wertsch, she started writing the obit two years ago when she was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer, continually revising it until her passing.

As reported by Minnesota Public Radio and in many other outlets, humor and comedy were an important outlet for Kay. Paul shared, ““She wanted to have a funny obituary. She didn’t think death was that bad and it was just another phase and when you die, you die. So she wanted to have people laugh over it.”

You can read both her self-penned obituary and Paul’s follow-up on the Minnesota Public Radio website here.