Longform

Special Kay

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Even as an undergraduate, say those who know her best, Rauth-Farley was intense, driven and focused.

"She knew her whole life what she wanted to do--she's one of those," says her husband, Mark. "She has never understood the concept of unmotivation, if that's a word."

Mark Farley also grew up in St. Joseph. But he's about three years older than Kay, and the two didn't click romantically until after she went off to college, and he returned from a tour in Vietnam.

Rauth-Farley graduated from Creighton University in 1973, with a bachelor's degree in biology. Thrilled that her dream of becoming a doctor was getting closer, she applied to the university's medical school. She didn't get accepted, which devastated her.

"To this day, Kay lives with a fear of failure more than most," Mark Farley says. "She wants everything right and perfect in her life, again more than most. But she won't quit when things go against her, not hardly."

Instead, she entered Creighton's graduate program, and earned a master's degree in biology in 1975. She reapplied to the university's medical school, and this time was admitted.

By now, she and Mark were a serious item, and he asked her to marry him the night before medical school started.

"There were 100 men and 10 women at the school," Rauth-Farley recalls, "but the cool guys were already taken anyway, and the single guys were nerds."

The couple married in 1975. Rauth-Farley was 25.
She graduated four years later, then completed a three-year medical residency program at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

"A lot of my ability to get through it all is due to Mark," she says. "He'd have our two babies by himself for days on end when I was on call at the hospital. And he was working hard himself. . . . He made things possible for me."

Mark Farley's version: "What she's saying may be true. But Kay would have crawled across the desert on her hands and knees to become a doctor."

After Rauth-Farley finished her pediatric residency in 1982, she and her young family returned to St. Joseph. There, she started a solo practice as a pediatrician. The hometown girl's reputation and practice grew steadily, if not her bank account.

"This was the early 1980s," she says, "and the Midwest was going through the farm crisis. A lot of my patients couldn't pay me, which was fine, except we had our own money problems."

In 1985, Rauth-Farley recruited a young doctor to help carry her growing workload. But that arrangement fell through, and she and Mark stunned their families by announcing they were moving to Houston.

Rauth-Farley took a job there as a pediatrician with CIGNA. Mark Farley landed on his feet, later becoming the head golf professional at a posh country club.

Rauth-Farley toiled for CIGNA until 1989, when, bored with her job, she applied and was hired at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix.

For the third time, Mark Farley followed his wife to a new town, a new job. He picked up work at Moon Valley Country Club and eventually became head pro. Their children were still in grammar school.

In 1989, child-abuse investigation and treatment in the Valley was prehistoric. Child sex-abuse victims usually had to wait weeks for their physical exams. The state of Arizona--which still is behind the national curve in funding children's services--was even more deficient.

At St. Joseph's in those days, Tascha Boychuk would interview abused children in a small room that passed for a "clinic." Four doctors on the hospital's pediatric staff rotated there for a few mornings each week.

Rauth-Farley became one of that quartet soon after arriving at St. Joe's. Within weeks, she resolved to do more.

"She was the one who had the clarity of vision of what the clinic could be," Boychuk recalls, "and she asked to be put full-time on it. St. Joseph's had the foresight to accommodate her, and to get behind a full-blown clinic, the one that they have now.

In 1991, then-governor Rose Mofford led the dignitaries at a ribbon-cutting ceremony that opened St. Joseph's Child Abuse Assessment Center, at 124 West Thomas Road.

Now, seven years and a few thousand exams later, Rauth-Farley is about to leave her "baby," as she calls it, in other hands.

When a Child Is Born, the Angels Sing
--a sign tacked to Kay Rauth-Farley's office wall

It's 7 a.m. on a June weekday, and Kay Rauth-Farley is alone in her second-floor office at her clinic.

She considers the hour or so before things heat up at her shop to be her own, and it's about the only time she'll lock her door behind her.

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin