OCEANSIDE — Kay Kutler, the co-founder of Brother Benno’s soup kitchen, died Feb. 15 at age 77. She is most remembered for the unconditional love she gave to others through her service work for the poor and the homeless.The Feb. 24 funeral mass to honor Kay at St. Mary Star of the Sea Church brought the community together. City Council members, business leaders and patrons of Brother Benno’s gathered to remember her.
“She touched everybody,” her husband Harold Kutler said. “Whatever your story was it didn’t matter, she loved you and you knew it.”
Kay started Brother Benno’s soup kitchen with her husband in 1983 after he retired. She was initially reluctant to take on the task, but soon became the heart and soul of the soup kitchen.
“She came down for the grand opening to support me,” Harold said. “She walked over to the first guy in line and hugged him. He almost fainted. She said she knew that’s what God wanted her to do.”
For the next 28 years, Kay continued to greet each guest at the soup kitchen with a hug, hello and welcome.
“It was the most important thing they got, a hug and to know someone cared about them,” Harold said. “It’s just amazing, she was all heart.”
Harold described his late wife as growing up as a bit of an underdog herself. Kay was born in Grafton, N.D., on April 17, 1934. Upon entering school she soon found she was left-handed and dyslexic. Her elementary teacher insisted she write with her right hand. The dyslexia made this a real struggle, Harold said.
Her parents sent her to the Holy Angels all girl school in Minneapolis, Minn. Kay graduated and went on to attend North Dakota State College. After a year of college she was advised by a school counselor that she would be better off looking for a husband, Harold said.
Kay was named the North Dakota State Potato Queen in 1955. Then she moved to California.
Shortly thereafter she married her husband. They had three children, two grandchildren, and remained married for 44 years.
“She was an angel, it took me a while to figure that out,” Harold said.
Kay lived with Parkinson’s disease the last four years of her life.
“She was completely dependent on us, but never complained,” Harold said. “Whenever you did something for her she would smile and that kept me going.”
Kay Kutler was put to rest at Eternal Hills Cemetery.