Catherine “Kay” Marie Merchant, 81, of Hancock passed away peacefully surrounded by her loving family on Dec. 31, 2019. She was born to John and Jeanne (Lavery) Differ on Jan. 1, 1938, in Brookline, Mass. Kay attended Brookline schools, where she met her late husband, Richard A. Merchant Sr., who she was married to for 66 loving years. She worked for the Maine Extension Cooperative Services for over 20 years helping families and children. Kay was the fourth eldest of 11 children, which instilled strong family values. In 1962, Kay and Richard moved their eight children to Maine.
Kay, first and foremost, enjoyed making memories with her large extended family. She enjoyed traveling, camping, cooking, yardsaling, card games and messing with telemarketers. She always found the positive in all situations, especially in whist, turning a lousy two-bid into a no trump and making it.
Kay’s love of life was infectious and it was apparent to everyone who had the privilege and opportunity to meet her. One of Kay’s greatest life lessons that she passed along to her family was to live life to its fullest and “make memories.” Kay, aka Judge Judy, sat on her throne as the matriarch of Merchantville, but also her throne at the head of her dining room table, where she welcomed all who came through her door. Her intelligence and quick-witted humor made her a joy to be around. Kay was a mother to eight, though she was considered a mother by so many more. Her love and influence was endless.
Kay leaves behind sisters Betty Lyons and Jeanne Hayes along with brothers Frank and Jimi Differ. She was predeceased by brothers Billy, Jackie, Hank, Tommy, Danny and Eddie Differ. Kay’s legacy lives on in her children and their spouses Connie and Bill Wales, Rick and Kelli Merchant, Danny and Lana Merchant, David Merchant, John and Julie Merchant, Karin Merchant and Shawn Tooley, Jeannie Snow and Jim Kennedy, and Becky Merchant and Billy Duke. She leaves behind grandchildren Darrin, Michelle, Cassie, Jodie, Richelle, Erin, Vanessa, Sarah, Brittany, Jensyn, Tasha, Sydney, Delaney and Katie. She also leaves behind great grandchildren Jacklyn, Addison, Lylah, Parker, Spencer, Elliana, Kellan, Bentley, Adalynn, Stella, Wyatt, Nora, Kyle and Alani. Kay was truly adored by each and every one of them, along with many, many nieces and nephews.
A celebration of life will be held at her home on May 16, 2020, at 2 p.m. We would like to thank the staff at Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital in Ellsworth for their exceptional care and support.