Kay Consales, a major benefactor of Montclair State University’s College of the Arts, passed away on October 11 at the age of 91. She is survived by her daughter Christine Consales and son-in-law J. Douglas Peters.
“Kay Consales was a great friend of the University who had a passion for life and the arts, and the desire to help others achieve their artistic potential,” President Susan A. Cole said. “Her generosity of spirit and love of the performing arts, especially music and dance, will be remembered for generations on our campus.
Kay Consales gifted $6 million in honor of her husband Gene (’50) to establish an endowed faculty chair in the College of the Arts as well as three endowed scholarship funds for students studying vocal music and musical theatre. The gift is intended to help the University attract the best and most talented faculty and students in the nation and to help those students launch important careers in vocal music and musical theatre. With their total donations to the College of the Arts amounting to $6 million, the Consales' cumulative lifetime gifts constitute the largest financial contribution made thus far in the College’s history.
Kay Consales was honored by the University for her remarkable contributions in a special celebration in October that brought her together with vocal music and musical theatre majors – students whose lives will be impacted by the couple’s generosity.
Featuring dancing and singing performances by undergraduate students from Montclair State’s nationally known BFA Musical Theatre program and remarks from the inaugural Gene Consales Endowed Scholarship recipient, the day was a heartwarming reminder of the power of scholarship support and of the legacy Gene and Kay Consales will leave for generations of Montclair State University students to come.
“Having my husband live on in your memories means everything to me,” said Kay at the event. “And I thank you for that from the bottom of my heart.”
Gene and Kay Consales shared a 63-year marriage of devotion and commitment to one another – and to the arts. The pair met in high school but their friendship was interrupted when Gene was drafted into the Army Air Corps. The couple fell in love when they collaborated on a production of Voice of the Heart, an operetta that Gene composed and for which Kay served as choreographer. Together they created a performing group that featured Montclair State theatre and music students. They married in 1947.
Kay shared her passion for the arts with young people. After an injury ended her dance career, she opened a dance studio and taught for almost a decade.
Gene, a talented musician and composer, had considered pursuing a career in the theatre, but chose to share his passion for music with young people, as a teacher. He graduated from Montclair State with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree and became the beloved vocal music teacher at Union High School.
An equally talented businessman, Consales’ real estate investments included the Bamm Hollow Golf Club, restaurants and rental properties. Gene and Kay also owned and managed the noted Baltusrol Swim Club. These investments have provided funding for this gift that will benefit students for generations to come.