On Dec. 27, 2021, Kay Frances Braden departed this life's struggle to be forever present with Christ her Savior. A proud native Texan (Fort Worth), her family relocated to farming country surrounding Nashville while she was young. Attending and graduating Mt. Juliet High School, she married classmate and high school sweetheart Leonard Henson. The couple had three children, April Lynn, Robert Wayne and Michael Douglas Henson. A change of life circumstances put Kay and the kids on the move again, this time to rural Washington.
Although a full-time homemaker, she turned her gift for singing and piano playing into frequent employment on stage, where she brightened up the performance of any ensemble. It was 1971 when she met future husband Bob Braden. They began a lifelong friendship and musical collaboration that would endure for 50 years. Kay worked hard as a single mom to provide. In addition to music, she worked in the service industry, as a retail department manager, and in restaurants, etc. A son, Clay Dylan Cottet, born in 1975 brought a deeper desire to find her "forever home." This would prove elusive.
In 1989, having put their band equipment in joint storage, Bob was "firmly and forever" smitten, and the couple never looked back. They married in 1993 and Kay thoroughly enjoyed her role as "bonus mom" to Bob's three daughters from a previous marriage. Life was sweet but got sweeter still with the inclusion of Janice Lapha, age 8, into the family. Kay poured her life into this fragile little girl, in such need of stability. A period of fostering led to Janice's adoption in 2000, completing the family. A heart attack a year later caused Kay to close her successful "Sunshine Clean" agency and stick closer to home.
Her strong Christian faith and her desire to obediently share that life changing faith with others kept her quite active in Dayspring Baptist Church, as well as their mission work Safe Family Ministries. Kay was a teacher, encourager, mentor, house mom, deaconess and unconditional loving friend. During this time, the family, including Janice, regained its musical voice, leading Dayspring's worship music as well as informal music instruction at SAFE. Kay retaught herself the guitar chords necessary to perform worship songs, including her own compositions.
It seemed only natural for this tender soul with a wealth of life experience to effectively guide and encourage those around her. SAFE residents, friends, family and strangers alike benefitted from her balance of nurture with "occasional" structure. She was "Nana" to all who needed one and we are forever grateful to have had her in our lives.
Kay was preceded in death by her mother and stepdad, Juanita and Bill Ayers, father Wade Arwine, brother Marvin Arwine and two infant children. She is survived by daughter April (Gary) Fuston, Robert (Teresa) Henson, Michael (Linda) Henson, son Clay Cottet, daughter Janice (Robert) Hogan and "bonus" daughters Tawna (Nathan) Morris, E'lan Braden and Aja (Ben Curtis) Perry. She will also be missed by numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well as nieces and nephews. In addition, she loved and is loved by an extended Braden family and her church community.
Please join our family in a celebration of Kay's life on Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, at 1 p.m. at Dayspring Baptist Church, 2088 Jackson Highway, Chehalis, Washington, 98532. In Lieu of flowers, please feel free to support a charity of your choice. Kay's heart had been moved to support Compassion International.