Woman Writes Her Own Obituary

Death is not something to take lightly and it's usually a very sad situation. When someone dies and leaves us, we end up with this empty feeling, especially when that person meant so much to so many people.

In Kay Ann Heggestad's case, it seemed as though she meant a lot to many people and I'm sure those people are saddened by her death. However, she seemed to find a way to shine a light on her death by writing her very own (hilarious) obituary:

MADISON, Wis. - Kay Ann Heggestad, age 72, bought the farm, is no more, has ceased to be, left this world, is bereft of life, gave up the ghost, kicked the bucket, murió, c'est fini. She died on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, after a wimpy non-battle with multiple myeloma, a nasty bone marrow cancer, after almost two years to the date of diagnosis. No one should say she fought a courageous battle, because she did not! Unlike most folks, she complained all the way. What a whiner! She was ready to quit treatment many times but her family pushed her to continue, which was good since she then had time to have parties and say good-bye to friends and relatives.

She was born on Sept. 18, 1944, a fact she was asked ten times or more per day by medical people. Many said she did not look THAT OLD and no, she did NOT dye her hair when she had some, except for occasional highlights. You can ask Jodi, her hairdresser.

Her parents were John and Augusta (Pulvermacher) Heggestad. She was born, raised and lived in Madison except for one year as an intern in St. Paul, Minn., and two years on the Navaho reservation in Gallup, N.M., where she taught medics and delivered lots of new Navahos and a few Zuni Native Americans. She went to medical school at UW-Madison. The two best things about med school were finding her husband, Paul Wertsch, in the pathology lab and marrying him a year later, and being taught how to do a proper physical examination by William S. Middleton who was her escort at Med school graduation. She even wore a dress for that occasion.

After finishing a sometimes stormy family practice residency, she and her husband and Dr. Daniel Barry worked at the Monona Grove clinic and then a few years later, the three of them plus their manager, Alice Soule, built, stocked and opened the Wildwood Family Clinic in 1977. The clinic has now grown to two offices, ten doctors, four PAs, six PTs, and two psychiatric social workers. Kay left Wildwood in 2000 to become a medical director at what is now called Agrace HospiceCare and thought she had found her true calling in life, only to be "let go" after five years. After she left, they replaced her with a puppy. Paul says it was because the dog had a nicer personality. That was an extremely hard time for her.

She was saved by her volunteer work. She was a classroom assistant/tutor in algebra at Sennett Middle School for several years and she was on the national and local boards of PFLAG. She also did talks for the residents of Aster Assisted Living—a bit of standup and a bit of medicine monthly for five years. She got more out of it than they did...and made new wonderful friends. Here's to you Dick, Wayne, Paul, Kay, Nola, Gloria, Marge, Shirley and all the rest of yas. She also was a volunteer guardian to several folks over the last seven years...something many people could do. Check that out if you want a little challenge.

And volleyball. She played 6-10 hours per week as long as she was able for the last eight years of her life, like an addiction, last playing on Dec. 16, 2016. She made great friends thru the sport. She tried to learn Spanish for 12 years, achieving the ability to order beer and find a bathroom. Her classmates became great friends.

Kay and Paul Wertsch were married for 48 years and have two wonderful kids, Johanna Wertsch (Larry Kaltenberg) in Madison and Gregory Wertsch (Mark Ferrandino) in Denver; and two lovely granddaughters, Paulina Kay Wertsch, and Lila Augusta Ferrandino. Paul was THE BEST HUSBAND in the world. Really. She is also survived by an excellent sister, Joan Ausse (Patrick) of Madison; and sister–in-law, Jacqueline Wertsch of Milwaukee; and by dozens of uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews all over the U.S. and in Norway and some out-of-this-world friends who supported her through the final months. If she started to name them, this obit would triple in length... you know who you are.

A celebration of life was held in May 2015, a bit prematurely, and she is sorry if you missed it. She said it was the best party she ever attended. A second celebration was held September 2016 and that was as good as the first one. She will miss the third one. She had a great life and wants people to not grieve. (In case anyone would.) Grieving won't bring her back so what is the point... just makes you feel bad. And, she had a T-shirt that said, "I know what is right for everyone." She was right.

She wanted to express her gratitude to Dr. Dirk Nuenninghoff for making the myeloma diagnosis early, Dr. Michael Frontiera for his great expertise in getting her initial remission and for making her laugh, and to Dr. Natalie Callander and all of her team for working so hard to keep the old girl alive. She wants to thank the staffs of St. Mary's Hospital and B6/6 at UW Hospital, a fine bunch of committed people who provide excellent care in a cheerful manner to those not very cheerful.

The family would like to invite patients, colleagues, friends and family to gather and remember Kay on Wed, Jan. 18, 2017, from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. at DOOR CREEK GOLF COURSE, 4321 Vilas Rd, Cottage Grove, WI 53527. Kay lived a remarkable life and the stories should be shared and the tales told. Send stories to be shared at the gathering to KayStories608@gmail.com.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the Trillium Fund (studies Multiple Myeloma) UW Foundation, 1848 University Ave, Madison, 53726; PFLAG National, 1828 L Street, NW, Suite 660, Washington, D.C. 20036; the Freedom from Religion Foundation, PO Box 750, Madison, WI 53701; Donations of blood to the Red Cross would be appreciated. Online condolences may be made at www.gundersonfh.com.

Gunderson East

Funeral & Cremation Care

5203 Monona Drive


To make sure the world knew of Kay's many accomplishments, the family also wrote an obituary which was included in the paper with the above. You can read that HERE.


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Abby Rae

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