Carolanne (Kay) Fern Steck was born at her parent’s farm in Dundee, Michigan. She attended a one-room grade school in Dundee and then moved to Fostoria, Ohio.

John George Tholan was born in Fort Wayne and attended Central Catholic High School, at that time an all-boy’s school.

On Labor Day, 1936, Kay came to Fort Wayne to attend a beauty college and stayed at the home of John’s mother on East Creighton Avenue. John and Kay became friends but were not dating, as Kay already had a boyfriend back in Fostoria. After six months, Kay graduated from beauty college and moved back to Fostoria to work. John was laid off from International Harvester, but found work at a factory in Fostoria called Crankshaft. Kay was making twenty-five dollars a week and John was making thirty. The Great Depression was still in full swing but in spite of their low wages, they decided to get married. They tied the knot on November 23, 1939.

John was laid off from Crankshaft and found work in Cleveland, Ohio, and Kay stayed in Fostoria for awhile and then joined John in Cleveland. John missed Fort Wayne and relocated back to his mother’s house and went to work for General Electric Company. After a four-month stint at GE, Fred Zollner hired John to work at Zollner Piston where John spent the next forty years.

While John was working at Zollner, Kay took a job with Bowser and assembled gasoline pumps. She then found employment with Lincoln Life Insurance Company and worked on group policies. She stayed with Lincoln for most of her working years, moving in and out of the workforce, taking time off to have babies and manage their home.

John now spends his time at Riverbend Health Care on Winchester Road. Kay lives at Georgetown Apartments but commutes weekly to Riverbend, sometimes driven by her daughter Cheryl and sometimes with the help of the Georgetown driver. Together they have raised five children, John Jr. and James live in Indianapolis, Cheryl lives in Fort Wayne, Daniel lives in Las Vegas and Christina lives in Charlotte, South Carolina. All their children are married and have provided John and Kay with nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

When asked if she had any advice for newlyweds, Kay just laughed and shook her head, “Beats me,” she said, and then she continued, “Kids don’t seem to have the same hardships we had. They tend not to save their money and they go for the good times without worrying about the future.”

John is now suffering from Parkinson’s disease and it’s a challenge to help him in the day-to-day necessities. He gets the therapy he needs at Kingston.

Kay said, “We get along as best as we can through the ups and downs, just like we always have. I have no regrets. I’d do it all over again, just the same.”

The Waynedale News Staff


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