A Journey of A Life

The Life of Justice Kay McFarland

My Story Dedication

When Chief Justice McFarland was asked who she’d like to dedicate her life story to, she answered that she had no one in mind specifically, since she had no immediate or distant relatives alive. Those who loved her know she was fond of animals and gardening. Therefore, this is dedicated to everyone who promotes “all of nature.”

Justice McFarland’s Obituary & Memorial Video

Former Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Kay Eleanor McFarland passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday, August 18, 2015, following a brief illness. She had recently celebrated her 80th birthday at a dinner attended by friends, including members of what she considered her “court family.”

Chief Justice McFarland’s life and accomplishments created a legacy. Her story is told here on Lasting Legacy Online as well as through the Kay McFarland Japanese Garden, which is located in the Topeka Zoo (Topeka, Kansas). Justice McFarland’s story is preserved and shared, so that it may inspire future generations to aspire in the same way she did.  

Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Kay McFarland’s dream was to leave a legacy gift of a world class Japanese garden in the capitol city of the state she served. She established a living trust to help fund her dream of a Japanese garden so it could be admired and accessible to those who might not ever have the chance to visit Japan themselves. Her garden is a destination filled with breath-taking views, offering inspiration, contemplation, and serves as a venue for monumental life enhancing experiences.

Kay’s interests and talents were many and varied. She was a world class show ring rider of Tennessee Walking horses, including the award winning Midnight Secret, and bred champion Irish wolfhounds from stock brought directly from Ireland. She was also an expert seamstress and quilter.

Kay traveled the world. Her father’s work as an educational consultant and motivational speaker for the Reader’s Digest and General Motors provided early opportunities for domestic and foreign travel. Her love of travel continued throughout her life, including three African safaris with former Topeka zoo director, Gary Clarke.

She was the consummate storyteller. Kay’s travels, background, experiences, and knowledge provided her with much material, but it was her ability to find the humor in almost any situation and her keen observations regarding human nature that made her stories unique. Her childhood years spent in Coffeyville and visiting relatives in Caney, Kansas, were as frequently the subjects of her stories as were her travels to exotic locations throughout the world. Simply put, she enjoyed people and their stories wherever she found them.