Community honors life of athletic adviser

By Robert Clinton, Sports Editor

Balloons filled the sky over Comet Stadium as the memory and 33 years of service by retired Admissions and Records assistant and Athletic Eligibility Adviser Kay Armendarez were honored during Saturday’s Homecoming celebration.

Armendarez owned the hearts of her co-workers and the outreach she conducted spanned the width of the campus, shaping the lives of thousands of student athletes along the way.

“She genuinely cared about the students, not just because they were athletes. She just wanted to help people,” Comet football coach Alonzo Carter said. “It was tough. We had a genuine relationship. I appreciate it — and I miss her.”

Born Aug 11, 1958 in Walnut Creek, Armendarez began her career as a student assistant at Los Medanos College before moving to Admissions and Records at Contra Costa College.

Following her retirement in 2014, Armendarez became ill and was hospitalized before fully getting to enjoy the free time her years of dedication demanded she deserved.

Armendarez died of cancer less than a year after retirement, June 8, 2015.

She is survived by her two sisters Nancy and Gayle Armendarez and an expansive list of family and friends.

“I thought I knew her, but when I found out how much she meant to everyone here it was really special,” Nancy Armendarez said. “She loved working with the students and had a lifelong love of baking. If she found out someone liked brownies, she made brownies. And she never expected anything more than a thank you.”

Regularly described as generous, Armendarez’s personal touch included gifts of fruit or home baked goodies that brought a sentimentality to what could be clinical administrative relationships.

A multi-talented worker, she handled eligibility for the students in athletic programs, clarifying paperwork and advising athletes about in-state rules and financial aid.

Most importantly, she wanted to guide students in a direction that would most likely lead to their success.

A staunch supporter of Comet athletics, Armendarez built relationships with not just the athletes she helped, but she also forged strong bonds with the coaches on staff.

Her online memory and condolences page contained last respects from former faculty members and even a message from former college president McKinley Williams.

He also expressed how much he missed her fresh baked brownies.

Williams exalted Armendarez’s 33 years of service and added a personal memory linked to her support for him throughout his tenure as president.

Also, the fond memories he has of her fresh baked brownies.

She smoothed the rough patches for student-athletes as they transitioned to college life. Armendarez would not pass off students from department to department, allowing them to become discouraged with the admissions process.

She empathized with students who complained about standing in line after line just to be told they were missing some essential paperwork. Armendarez routinely plucked students out of line to provide hands-on assistance to get a problem solved.

“Kay (Armendarez) put her neck on the line to help students,” Athletic Director John Wade said. “She wasn’t one of those people who would tell you what needed to be done — she just got things done herself.”

Armendarez’s charitable heart and generous ways still bring smiles to the faces of staff members who were touched by her unselfishness. The memory of Armendarez lives on in the hearts of Comets campuswide.

Her loving spirit will be sorely missed by all that knew her.