Stephen D. “Steve” Kays

Almond, NY  /  Hornell, NY

Stephen D. “Steve” Kays, 75, of Almond, NY passed away Thursday morning (March 2, 2023) at home surrounded by family after a long illness.  

Born in Phoenix, AZ on June 9, 1947, he was the son of Joe and Esther Kays. 

Steve grew up in Hornell with his two brothers and two sisters where he excelled in high school sports.  During his years in High School, Steve was active in student leadership having served as the Class President and captured attention as a talented baseball and basketball player, gifts he shared with Hornell youth for many years following. 

Following high school graduation, Steve made a career working for the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), working his way from cleaning offices to managing multi-million dollar highway projects.  He retired following 30 years of service but continued to serve as a contracted project manager on highway project until 2017 when he was sidelined by illness. He saw the development of Route 17 and oversaw elements of its transformation into I-86 as well as numerous bridge replacement projects with his last being the Seneca St / Seneca Rd bridge replacement. 

Steve remained active in youth programs and sports for decades.  He was a Den Leader for Webelos, umpired baseball games, coached baseball teams in Little League and Babe Ruth League, and coached Biddy and High School Basketball.  His commitment to Hornell youth and was further demonstrated when he served on the Hornell School Board with a simple goal to improve the school experience for Hornell’s youth. 

He married the former Sue Perry in October 1966 and had four sons, Don, Bill, Mike, and Jim.  To give his boys a better life, Steve worked nights at the Coachlight Motel and poured concrete driveways and sidewalks for homes and businesses throughout Hornell.  He had a passion for classic cars and could identify one by its headlights.  Steve was a quiet man who preferred simple things in life — trips to Loon Lake, sledding at the Country Club, family trips to Darien Lake, Eldridge Park, or Long Point (which he did for the boys).  In his later years, he could be found tending to the yard or watching NASCAR races, football, or the Weather Channel.  While he regularly ducked cameras, many pictures show him in a rocking chair with a child on his lap. 

Steve is survived by his wife of 56 years, Sue; sons, Don Kays of Wilmington, NC, Bill (Eileen) Kays of Wasilla, AK, Mike (Tonya Drake) Kays of Almond, and Jim (Marie) Kays of Angelica; 17 Grandkids; 7 Great-Grandkids; his brother Mike (Judy) Kays and sister Laurie Kays. 

He was preceded in death by his parents; his brother Don “Butch”; sister Sunny; and grandchildren Mary Kathryn, Thomas, and Zoey. 

The family of Stephen D. “Steve” Kays will receive friends on Monday from 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM at the Dagon Funeral Home, 38 Church St., Hornell, NY.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Tuesday at 10:00 AM at St. Ann’s Church with burial in St. Mary’s Cemetery.  A “Celebration of Life” will follow at Muhleisen’s Restaurant in Almond, NY.

The Funeral Mass & graveside service for Steve Kays will be streamed live and can be viewed on the Dagon Funeral Home Facebook page on Tuesday at 10:00 AM by visiting  The video will remain available for viewing on our Facebook page for 30 days.   

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Hornell YMCA, 18 Center St., Hornell, NY  14843.  Memorial forms will be available at the Dagon Funeral Home.  

A special “Thank-You” to Dr. Pasquale Picco and his staff for the wonderful care that Steve received during his long illness.

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3 Responses to “Stephen D. “Steve” Kays”

  1. Linda Hollands Grose says:

    All my life I’ve had 4 cousins . Sunny ,Steve, Mike and Laurie. I was too young to know Donny Jim ( Butch) before he passed .We all had Sunday and holiday dinners a grandmas Louise and Cora’s , had some thanksgiving evenings at Auntie Esther and Uncle Joe’s on Thacher St .I remember his cute little boys and his nice wife Sue . I moved away when I was 13 , so I missed all those years of family times together .
    Recently ,on a visit to Hornell , I had breakfast at Billy Schus with Steve and a nice visit with him at Southside . He was a very generous and kind person and he seemed to know and care about everyone , and they seemed to know and care about him . I got to know him better during my few visits home to visit his mom, my Aunt whom I miss so very much. Time goes by so quickly . I’m thankful for the moments God gives us to hold onto, and the family with which we stay connected . My love to Mike and Laurie , Sue, his boys and extended family and his beloved dogs .
    Rest in peace cousin Steve .
    Love , Linda and Glenn

  2. Pete Colomaio says:

    Mike, Laurie and family,
    I am sad to hear of your loss. You are in my thoughts. I often think back with fond memories of growing up in Hornell. The Kays family is a pleasant part of those memories.

  3. Judy Coleman says:

    Steve was a quiet, kind soul who will be remembered by many. I am so sorry about his passing. My prayers to his loving family.