Kay Jacquelyn Courtney

Kay Jacquelyn (Shipp) Courtney passed away peacefully on May 4, 2021 after an extended struggle with cancer and the residual effects of a stroke. 

Kay is preceded in death by her daughter, Claire Ann (Courtney) Fisher and survived by her son James ‘Jim’ Clifford Courtney, her grandchildren Megan Courtney & Cody Dumph, Emilee (Courtney) & Ty Dinh, Makenzie Courtney, Daniel Fisher, and Anna Fisher, as well as one great grandson, Killian James Dinh. Kay is also survived by her siblings James Shipp of Tennessee, Linda (Shipp) Smith of Indianapolis, IN., and Susan ‘Susi’ (Shipp) & Rick Fryer, of Indianapolis, IN. 

Kay was born and raised in Indianapolis, IN on July 28, 1934, the daughter of James Franklin Shipp and Eulah (Barrow) Shipp. Kay graduated from Broadripple High School in 1952 and went on to study journalism at Indiana University. Kay took pride in her ability to spell any word in the dictionary without assistance. She later married and had two children, Jim and Claire. In 1968, Kay relocated to Michigan where she worked as an editor before moving to Grand Rapids around 1978 to become a residential real estate broker, later establishing Kay Courtney & Associates. She found her passion in real estate and particularly loved and appreciated historic homes. She also cherished her role of advocate and teacher for her clients, particularly ‘first timers’. Kay was known for her ethics, assertiveness, knowledge, and as an inspiring mentor to many realtors until her retirement in 2016 at age 82! 

She was a member of the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors for over 35 years, serving on various committees and boards, and spearheaded the GRAR Book Drive that collects gently used K-8th grade books for children. GRAR recently renamed it the “Kay Courtney Book Drive”. It is well known that Kay deeply loved her adopted hometown of Grand Rapids as she was a long-time resident of Heritage Hill, a steadfast patron of the arts, and a generous contributor to many community development efforts. 

At Kay’s request there will be no funeral service. Kay was a regular contributor to two charities: Gilda’s House and Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. In lieu of flowers, Kay requested that those wishing to honor her memory donate to either of these charities. 

The family wishes to thank everyone for the heartfelt messages of condolence and appreciation of Kay’s life.

Leave Your Tribute Message

May 11, 2021 8:21pm

Jim, Maureen and I send our deepest sympathy to you and your family. Kay was not only my realtor, but a dear friend, mentor/counselor and even employer way back when she first got into real estate. From doing the history on the first house she ever sold in Heritage Hill, to managing property together and working on her own houses as an electrical contractor, I have always felt blessed to have had her in my life. I will miss her greatly and never forget everything she’s done for me over the years.

- Mike Cromwell

May 10, 2021 1:50pm

Both Tom and I thought the world of Kay.  We met her over ten years ago when we hired her to sell our cottage.  She quickly became a fabulous friend.  She made us laugh and enjoyed every minute we spent with her.  She was one of our most favorite friends of all time.  We’ll miss her terribly but she’s now with her beloved Claire.  May she enjoy heaven as much as she enjoy earth.

- susan leonard

May 10, 2021 5:32am

Jim and Family , Ken and I are so sorry for your loss, our thoughts and prayers are with you all at this difficult time.

- Ken and Candy Starr

May 10, 2021 1:55am

This was a nice tribute to Kay. She was a vibrant force who just wanted to make a difference. Kay will be missed.

- Margaret A Muldoon

May 09, 2021 6:46pm

Kay was such a special person to me since 1986…We drove across country together (California) our brakes went out in Colorado coming down one of the passes..another trip we went to “The Field of Dreams” and walked through the cornfield…Kay sold me my first 3 houses and bought the 3rd one from me and we lived together until she sold me my 4th house…She was know for her amazing love of Heritage Hill in Grand Rapids…God Bless you Kay…My memories will always be at the top tier of my life…Say hi to my mom and Claire…You lived a wonderful life and I’ll keep in touch with Jim…🙏🏻 ❤️ Always , Rock

- Rock Kauffman




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