Michael Zola Kay, age 83, of Atlanta, Ga., passed away peacefully in his home on Jan. 19, 2023.
Michael was born in New York City, spent his boyhood in Pittsburgh, and earned a B.S. degree in hotel administration at Cornell University. After launching his career at many of the marquis hotels in New York City, Michael came to Atlanta in 1980 as the CEO of Omni International Hotels. He went on to run the Portman Hotel Company and then, in 1991, went on to become the turnaround CEO of LSG Sky Chefs, the largest provider of integrated in-flight airline catering.
Michael served on the boards of Radiant Systems, NSI, Shoptaw and Pull-a-part and dedicated much of his retirement years to serving on the boards of national and local nonprofits. Michael is the past chair of the board of the Jewish Community Legacy Project and past board chair for the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, where he created the first donor-advised fund committee and chaired the investment committee. He served on the board of Jewish Federation of Atlanta and co-chaired the creation of their strategic plan with Mike Leven.
At JF&CS, where Michael chaired the board and served for two years, he and his wife, Ann, were honorary co-chairs of the capital campaign that resulted in an expanded campus and new space for the agency’s innovative IndependenceWorks program.
Up until the time of his death, Michael was on the boards of The Weber School and the MJCCA. Michael also served on the boards of the Atlanta Botanical Garden, United Way of Greater of Atlanta, YearUp Atlanta, The Center for Working Families, and KIPP Schools in Atlanta. Michael served as vice chairman of Points of Light and was on the national board of Repair the World. He and Ann then assisted in helping bring Repair to Atlanta.
Michael was a force for goodness and philanthropy, and, through his professional and volunteer pursuits, he created a lasting impression and an impressive legacy. Michael dedicated countless hours mentoring others and sharing his experiences and advice. Michael was a man of many thoughts and words, but he chose them wisely. His love of family, friends, running, books, and crossword puzzles are everlasting, and his presence will be missed by all who knew him.
Michael is survived by his wife of 43 years, Ann Kay; his brother, Jeffrey Kay; his son, Jonathan Kay, his wife, Marcia, and their 2 children, Hayden and Phoebe; his daughter, Jennifer Gilbert, and her 2 children, Mason and Max; his daughter, Alison Doerfler, and her 2 children, Harrison and Jordan; and his son, Todd Lubin, his wife, Lindsay, and their 2 children, Ozzy and Lou.
Memorial donations may be made to Jewish Family & Career Services or Atlanta Jewish Federation. The funeral services were held Sunday, Jan. 22 at 3 p.m. at Congregation Or Hadash at 7460 Trowbridge Road, Sandy Springs, GA 30328 with Rabbi Edward Harwitz officiating. Arrangements by Dressler’s, 770.451.4999.
- Michael Zola Kay
- New York City
- Cornell University
- hotel administration
- Omni International Hotels
- Portman Hotel Company
- LSG Sky Chefs
- Radiant Systems
- Jewish Community Legacy Project
- Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
- Jewish Federation of Atlanta
- Mike Leven
- The Weber School
- Atlanta Botanical Garden
- United Way of Greater of Atlanta
- YearUp Atlanta
- The Center for Working Families
- KIPP Schools
- Points of Light
- Repair the World
- Jewish Family & Career Services
- Congregation Or Hadash
- Rabbi Edward Harwitz
- Dressler’s Jewish Funeral Care