Kathleen Louise Young was born on December 8th, 1931 to J.D. and Myrtle (Fallbeck) Young as the oldest of three children. She passed away peacefully on Sunday, May 22, 2022.
Major influences on her childhood and early adult life were her strongly scientific-minded father, her plant and garden loving mother and the companionship with John Neihardt who lived at her parents’ house during the last 10 years of his life. She herself was able to combine the principles of scientific and evidence-based investigations with an unwavering love and deep respect for all things plants and then was able to put her knowledge and teachings to paper rather well.
Starting her own family at a very young age, she married Lloyd Hinkley and had four sons, Gary, David, and Ron, and Kim, adopted from Korea when Gary was only 2 years old. It was surely not easy to keep four growing sons and a husband fed and it was probably at that time that she got very creative about cooking, including using wild game the boys brought home.
She graduated from UNL with a bachelor’s degree in English and Botany and then moved on to do a Master’s degree in Intercultural Studies and Folklore, inspired by Roger Welsch, himself a Folklorist of the funny sort!
What a full professional life she had! She worked at UNL’s Morrill Hall, as a Naturalist in Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, as a folklorist for the State Historical Society, and, for a short time, as the Assistant Director of the San Bernardino Co Museum in California, before she came back to Lincoln. One of her proudest moments was the publishing of her book “Wild Seasons”, a cookbook using native plants from Nebraska. She enjoyed great respect from her peers in the fields of botany and ethnobotany and often gave presentations and seminars about her favorite subjects of plants and how to use them to adults and children alike. She liberally used her own children and grandchildren as guinea pigs for new recipes – and everybody was happy to oblige.
She was a lifelong loving advocate for all things nature. Her legacy will live on in the many plants she raised and gave away to so many people, and in the knowledge about wild plants that she willingly shared with anybody interested. Her deep respect and cultural understanding of Native Americans, borne from her friendship with Mr. Foolbull, a Lakota medicine man, adds to the many facets that made up her life. Her gentle hand will be greatly missed by many.
She is survived by her four sons Kim (Michelle), Gary (Susanne), David (Judy) and Ron (Toni), and many grandchildren and greatgrandchildren.
A Celebration of Life of Kay Young will be held on June 11 at the Pioneers Park Nature Center in Lincoln, from 9am to 4pm. It will be a potluck and dishes made using recipes from her book ‘Wild Seasons’ would be very appropriate and appreciated. Drinks and some snacks will be provided.
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