About Kay

Kay Ellis left a legacy behind that one would be hard-pressed to imitate. While her dedication to the tourism industry was of great significance, her love for her family, city, and life are what set her apart from most. She took risks, and through hard work, made sure that they paid off.

Kay was born and raised in Beverly (BHS c/o '68). She furthered her education at UMass Amherst and was an active member of the Sigma Kappa Sorority. After UMass and meeting Tom, Kay began her life in Gloucester. She worked as a reading teacher, and a real estate agent, among other careers. However, her first foray into tourism was when Kay ended up working alongside Tom as co-owner of Essex River Basin Adventures (ERBA), a kayaking business in Essex, MA. This is where Kay began to show the tourist industry her unique set of skills.

With the success of ERBA, Kay and Tom agreed to take their biggest business risk to date and fulfill Tom's dream of building a schooner out of Essex, MA that would sail in and around Gloucester Harbor. With everything they owned and everything they had on the line, Kay and Tom literally set sail into new waters. With the help of friends, family, and particularly their two sons, they became a staple on the waterfront and tourism scene. Tom sailed the boat—but Kay ran the business.

Once the business end of the Lannon was smooth sailing, Kay turned her attention to improving the tourism industry on the North Shore of Boston. She served on various boards and worked hard to make people fall in love with the place she called home. She could always be counted on when she committed to a task, and was well–known for her eye for grammar and intense dislike for exclamation points.

When Kay was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2015, she vowed to fight it with her head held high. When feeling well enough, she could be seen working in the office, sailing, and on one occasion, even steering the Columbia. Insert return space When Kay passed in 2016, the hospitality and tourism industry came out in droves to pay their respects to the woman who taught so many so much. Losing her left a spot at the table that will never be able to be filled.

To honor her legacy and all she gave our industry, the Kay Ellis Memorial Scholarship Fund was formed.