Kathryn “Kay” Gaver passed away Sunday, April 16, 2023 at her home in Ponte Vedra, with her husband of 57 years, John Gaver, by her side. Kay was born in Shenandoah, Iowa on July 12, 1939, to parents Glen Rydberg and Virginia Read Rydberg. At age 9, Kay’s family moved to Omaha, Nebraska where she graduated from Westside High School. Following high school graduation, Kay attended Grinnell College and Kansas City Art Institute, graduating with an interior design degree.
Following graduation, she worked at Orchard & Wilhelm department store. There she would meet, date, and eventually marry an elevator operator that captured her heart. As the musical genius, Steven Tyler sings, “Love in an Elevator,” led to Kay and John Gaver getting married on August 21, 1965. After completing an engineering degree, John joined the Air Force and together the couple moved to Japan where they welcomed their first son, Jeff. John was soon deployed to Vietnam, resulting in Kay and Jeff returning to the couple’s hometown. John returned home and the couple welcomed their daughter, Heather. Kay’s family later moved to Kirkwood, Missouri. While residing in Kirkwood, John and Kay were members of the First Church of Christ Scientist, Kirkwood. She worked with her friend, Lloyd Barling at Barling Interiors decorating homes and businesses all over St. Louis. Jeff and Heather were joined by little brother Glenn in 1975.
In 1983, the Gaver family moved to Tampa, Florida where Kay worked at Burdines Furniture Gallery on Gandy and later Portfolio in Carrollwood as an interior decorator. Kay was an avid supporter of the Tampa Art Museum and was an active member in several Tampa area social clubs. She finished her career at Calico Corners on Kennedy Boulevard, helping customers choose the perfect fabric. John and Kay loved attending University of Florida football games while their children attended the university. They also enjoyed traveling with Tampa friends and their Road Scholar group in Jacksonville, as well as yearly family beach trips to the Florida panhandle.
In 2015, John and Kay moved to Ponte Vedra to be near their children and grandchildren. She enjoyed attending countless sporting events and dance recitals. Kay always said her greatest joy in life was spending time with her family. She enjoyed playing bridge and spent many afternoons at the PGA Seniors Center and belonged to many book clubs. Before 2020, they regularly attended services at the Christian Science church in Jacksonville Beach.
Kay is survived by her husband, John Gaver and their children: Jeff Gaver (Renee) of Knoxville, Tenn., Heather Mandel (David) and Glenn Gaver (Laura) both of Ponte Vedra, FL; grandchildren: Zachary, Graham, Molly, Evan, Olivia, William and Drew Gaver and Glenn, Anna and Heath Mandel; brother, Tom Rydberg (Marsha) of Tampa; sister-in-law, Kaye Courington of New Orleans; nieces: Kristen Ayala (Wilson), Nancy Rydberg (Kevin Gibbons), Kathryn Rydberg; and nephew, Read Rydberg. Kay was preceded in death by her parents and brother, Lance Rydberg. Our beloved Nana will be greatly missed by her children, grandchildren, friends and family far and wide. A memorial service will be held May 13, 2023 at 3:00 PM at the Ponte Vedra Valley chapel, with a celebration of life following at Heather Mandel’s home. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her honor to Wolfson Children’s Hospital, the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra or WJCT Public Media.