In 1987, a 32-year-old American woman from a small North Texas town found herself alone, stranded in a foreign land. She was about to spend the next few months in a country she had never traveled to, with over 38 million strangers, and she had only recently learned the language. Plans had fallen through for the others who were supposed to join her on her trip. Regardless, God told her to go to Spain, and she went. Step by step, the Lord lead her through Spain one day at a time, meeting new missionaries and finding shelter as her trip went on. In just a few months, she understood foreign transit systems, currency, and Spanish that sounded nothing like the Spanish heard in Texas.
If you think that story sounds bold, that's because it was bold. But, that's the best way to describe Kay Marie Scarlett's faith: BOLD. Right now, she is rejoicing in heaven with her husband Mike. Kay left this world without warning at the age of 68, in October of 2022. She was an adoring mother, devoted wife, Christian, worship leader, retired teacher, businesswoman, and caregiver, but those titles don't even begin to capture the warmth and grace that Kay had.
Kay Marie Letson was born on May 21, 1954, in Muenster, TX. Her family moved often during her early childhood, before settling in Cleburne the summer before she started 3rd grade. She grew up in a big family, there were five kids altogether: Mike, Dawn, Kay, Martha, and Ruth. Kay loved growing up in Cleburne in the 60s, spending her childhood riding her bike all over town, swimming, playing basketball, baking cookies, and reading in her treehouse. As a little girl, she came up with the idea to sell her homemade potholders door to door. Little did she know, she was a businesswoman in the making.
Kay was always happiest at church and was a true believer from an early age. She found sanctuary at the youth group at St. Mark's Methodist as a teenager. Youth group is where she learned how to play guitar and discovered a God-given gift that she didn't know she had. She had a warm alto voice that could soothe your heart. Her voice added a friendly quality to any song, even if she was only singing harmony. Later in life, she was constantly making a joyful noise. She praised God whether she was washing the dishes, driving in traffic, or at church.
After graduating from Cleburne High School in 1972, she supported herself through college and had jobs that ranged from lifeguard to receptionist at an emergency room. She started at Weatherford College before earning her business degree from North Texas State University (UNT). After graduation, she worked for Walmart, opening up brand new stores in places that she couldn’t point to on a map. Being a young businesswoman wasn't easy, but she was savvy, fair, and wasn’t afraid to stick up for herself. God gave her discernment which helped her lead a large group of people at a young age. She went on to manage other clothing stores and even worked at the power plant doing office work, but it wasn't too long before she was called to mission work.
She attended Christ for the Nations in the ‘80s, deepening her own understanding of scripture and strengthening her walk with the Holy Spirit. She didn’t want to preach fire and brimstone, she wanted people to experience the peace that she had.
Despite living a very full life, Kay still had one thing she longed for. She had her heart set on having her own family, and her biological clock was ticking, but she gave it up to God. At 36, she met her true love, Mike Scarlett. As the story goes, he asked her to marry him and she responded “I’m not even used to how your face looks yet.” Regardless, she said yes. On March 8th, 1991, Mike and Kay were married at a courthouse in Texarkana, after knowing each other for three weeks.
Mike and Kay's lives paralleled in many ways, they were both small business owners, musicians, middle children in large families, and they both found meaning and comfort at church from an early age. They were meant for each other. After getting hitched, Kay closed her own gift shop, to help Mike grow Scarlett's Pianos. She was along for the ride, pivoting to antique auctions, before supporting Mike in his pursuit of his master's degree.
The most joyful time in Kay’s life was when she had her babies. She was almost 40 by the time she gave birth to her first son, and almost 42 when she gave birth to her daughter. Late is better than never, because Kay was meant to be a mom. She was patient, loving, soothing, and so much fun. If one of her children broke one of her valued things, she would tell them, “I really loved that but I love you more.” Her children never wondered if they were loved, they knew because she told them all the time. She simply delighted in her children.
She was a dedicated mother and wife who made sacrifices throughout her life for her husband and kids. After being a stay-at-home mom for many years, she reentered the workforce as an elementary school teacher to support her family. She received her alternative teaching certification in 2003 and taught Kindergarten with Fort Worth ISD for about ten years. She loved the kids in her class. Building their confidence, was as important as teaching them their ABCs.
After retiring, she greatly enjoyed the time she was able to spend with her best friend, her husband Mike. They would go to lunch, the movies, camping, or just go for a drive. They loved each other deeply and often said they didn’t know what they would do without each other. Every week, Kay looked forward to her Thursday morning women’s Bible study. She would play her keyboard and praise God with the women in her group. For over twenty years, she laughed, prayed, and cried with her sisters in Christ, something that she cherished.
Kay Scarlett believed in miracles. She believed in miracles because she had seen them happen, and for the last ten years, she needed a miracle. Schizophrenia had taken the son she knew away from her. She and Mike dedicated the last decade of their lives working to get the help needed to restore their beloved son’s mind. They tried everything they could to get him the help he needed. Unfortunately, the system is broken. They found in their pursuit, that it seemed there was no way to get help for their son unless he hurt someone or did something illegal. She was discouraged but she had faith. She believed that she was doing what she needed to do, which was care for someone who would have been lost in the world if she hadn’t.
If you met her, you would have never known what she was dealing with. She chose to dwell on the beauty in life. She reveled in nature, seeing God's majesty in the Rocky Mountains and a hummingbird just the same. In her 60s, she took up gardening. She took meticulous notes planning out her garden, before growing and canning her own vegetables. She was an eternal optimist who was known to say, "What's the worst thing that could happen?" or "You won't know until you try."
Kay Scarlett was a beautiful soul who has had a profound impact on the lives of countless people, bringing joy, love, and peace to those she encountered every day. Kay is survived by her three children, Sarah Scarlett, Samuel Scarlett, and stepson Michael Scarlett and his wife Susan; 5 grandchildren, MacKenzie Perry and her husband Nathan, Noah, Zachary, Grace, and Carson; her great grandson Carter; her sister Martha Wade; and the rest of her beloved family and friends.
A memorial service for Kay and Mike Scarlett is scheduled for 2 p.m. on November 12th at Turning Point Church in Fort Worth. Flowers can be sent to the church.