‘Name guru’ leaves a trail of flowers and warmth


The Mirror

Rainier View Elementary School isn’t just losing an office manager at the end of this school year.

The school is losing a library of information about local students and families stretching generations back.

Kay House will answer the office phone for the last time June 30, after 14 years at Rainier View and 36 years with the Federal Way School District.

In that time, House has memorized the names of well over 1,000 students. She knows their brothers and sisters. She knows their parents. Some of the students she has known as just mounds in their mothers’ bellies before they were even born.

“Some of the families here are like family to me. I’ll miss the families and the kids,” House said.

But she won’t have to miss them too much, she added. House plans to stay in contact with friends from the school. And, living in the community, she often sees students and families at the grocery store, the park or the bank.

The names have gotten easier to remember over the years, House said.

“Kids nowadays have such unique names. They’re not John and Harry anymore,” she said. “They’re such unique names, you think ‘Gee, I’ve never heard that name before.’”

House remembers when Joshua and Jared were among the most popular names. Today, children have a variety of new names, she said, citing her grandsons Keaton and Kepler as examples.

And with a surge in diversity, House has become familiar with names from a variety of cultures. Sometimes, she seeks the help of the custodian, who is Ukrainian, in pronouncing names.

In addition to being the Rainier View name guru, the office financial manager, the newsletter editor, the phone answerer, the typist and the all-around go-to person, House was also the office florist.

In her 14 years there, there was rarely a day the office wasn’t adorned with fresh flowers.

In her retirement, House plans to pursue her love of flowers in her home garden.

She will also volunteer at the King County Superior Court as a guardian ad litem, advocating for children who are neglected or abused.

“It’s probably the most worthwhile thing I’ve ever done,” she said of her volunteer work.

House will be greatly missed, said principal John Trujillo.

“Probably the thing I appreciate the most is Kay knows all of our families and kids,” he said. “That quality adds a sense of warmth and a positive environment to our school.”

Contact Margo Horner: or (253) 925-5565.

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