American Numismatic Biographies author Pete Smith submitted this
article on the newest numismatic centenarian, Kay Lenker. Happy 100th birthday!! Thanks, Pete.
Each year the Numismatic Literary Guild presents awards during the American Numismatic
Association World's Fair of Money. With good food and entertainment, the NLG
been popular with members and guests.
The highest annual award is
The Clemy. named in honor of NLG founding member Clement
Bailey. I attended the NLG
Bash on August 18, 2011, when the Clemy winner was announced.
I rose to my feet and walked to the stage as the crowd gave a round of applause.
The applause was not for me. Taking my arm for support was Kay Lenker. The applause was for
her. She was 89 at the time and had been a supporter of the NLG for many years including
service as club treasurer 1985 to 2012.
Catharine R. Fean was born in Philadelphia on November 29, 1922. Her father was a mail
carrier, Albin J. Fean, and her mother was also named Catharine R. (1898-1989). She received a
B.A. from Immaculata in 1944 and an M.A, from San Diego State University in 1976.
Kay was certified as a meteorologist in 1945 and served on active duty in the U. S. Navy from 1944 to 1954. She retired from the Navy Reserves with the rank of Captain. She then worked with the United States Weather
Bureau from 1955 to 1958 and with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography 1958 to 1978. She
continued working as a consulting meteorologist 1978 to 1981.
She developed an interest in collecting coins in 1955. With her husband posted to Japan 1962 to
1965, she developed an interest in Japanese coinage. In the 1970's, she was a frequent exhibitor
at shows in Southern California and often received
best-of-show awards. She joined the ANA
in 1961 and converted to life member LM 626. She was certified as an ANA judge in 1976. In
recent years I judged an exhibit she had on
As Catharine R. Fean, she was co-chairman for the San Diego Numismatic Society banquet
committee in 1960 and an exhibitor in 1961. She was publicity chairman for the San Diego
County Interclub Numismatic Council Coinarama in 1961.
Kay married Stuart T. Edgerton on September 1, 1961, and their marriage ended with his death
on February 15, 1978. Her second marriage was to John E. Lenker on January 26, 1980, and
lasted until his death on April 14, 1993.
It might take a century to compile a list of her service to coin clubs. She has organized exhibits,
managed publicity and been a program speaker. Here is an attempt, probably incomplete, to list
offices she has held.
American Numismatic Association (ANA), board member 1995-2003, general chairman for the
ANA convention in San Diego in 1983.
California Exonumist Society, president 1991-92, show chairman 1991-92, secretary 2008.
California State Numismatic Association (CSNA), show general chairman 1972-1975, 2002-
2004, bourse chair 1989-99, treasurer in 1990-2013. In 2001 she became
Assistant Editor South of the Tehachapis for Calcoin News and served until the publication merged in 2003. She then
worked for The California Numismatist until 2006.
Convention of International Numismatics (C.O.I.N.), secretary.
International Primitive Money Society, secretary/treasurer.
Numismatic Association of Southern California (NASC), board 1988-89, recording secretary
1990-1995, treasurer 1996-2008.
Numismatic Literary Guild, treasurer and co-treasurer 1985 to 2012.
Redlands Coin Club, recording secretary 1981, secretary/treasurer 1993 to 1995.
San Diego County Inter Club Numismatic Council, president 1972, 1981, editor 1973, secretary
1977, show general chairman 1972-74. treasurer 1986, bourse chair 1991-2011.
San Diego Numismatic Society, secretary for twenty years 1982-1997, president for six years.
Kay was named a Krause Publications Numismatic Ambassador in 1987. She was honored for
her service with an ANA Outstanding District Delegate Award in 1992 and a Glenn Smedley
Memorial Award in 2003. As mentioned earlier, she received the NLG Clemy Award in 2011. In
2022 she was honored with the Elvira Clain Stefanelli Memorial Award for Achievement in
I wrote this article on November 29, 2022, on the occasion of her 100 th birthday. She now joins
the elite group of 100-year-old numismatists. I will be interested to hear how she is doing.
What's Her Name?
Although I refer to her as Catharine, her name also appears as Catherine. I found these references
to her on the Newman Numismatic Portal.
Catharine Fean – 2
Catherine Fean – 3
Catharine Edgerton – 153
Catherine Edgerton – 86
Kay Edgerton – 1106
Mrs. Stuart Edgerton - 3
Catharine Lenker – 17
Catherine Lenker – 7
Kay Lenker – 1282
Catharine Edgerton Lenker – 68
Catherine Edgerton Lenker – 17
Kay Edgerton Lenker – 977
Mrs. John Lenker - 2
When she worked for Scripps, she wrote a report published under the name of Catharine Fean.
In the 1930 Census, her name is recorded as Catharane Fean.
In the 1940 Census, her name is recorded as Catherine R. Fean.
When was she born?
I interviewed her at the ANA convention on August 13, 1991. I recorded her date of birth as
November 29, 1922. I have not found another source to confirm that date.
The Clustrmaps.com site lists her date of birth as June 1, 1923.
The Newber.com site lists her as male.
The inconsistencies seen in this case are not unusual with similar research.
Ken Berger put me in touch with Peter Lenker and Ginny Bourke who reports that Kay is doing OK. She wrote that "we dedicated the 2022 San Diego Coinarama show to Kay and had a brief history of her in the program."
Were any of our readers present at the event? How was it?
Kay Lenker with Alan Herbert at the 2011 Chicago ANA
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
ALAN HERBERT 1926-2013
Wayne Homren, Editor
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