Florence, S. C.
Mrs. Helen Watts Kirkley, 91, passed away peacefully at Elmcroft Assisted Living on May 16th, 2013, after a long illness.
Mrs. Kirkley was born in Lee County on July 11th, 1921, and was the daughter of the late Birchmore and Callie Gardner Watts.
After graduating from Winthrop College with a degree in education, she taught school in several locations in South Carolina and after moving to Bennettsville in the late 1960's, she was appointed the Principal at Wallace Primary School, and during several summers, she traveled to St. Coletta School in Jefferson, Wisc. where she taught disabled children. After 30 years of dedication to education, Mrs. Kirkley retired in 1983 from the Chester County School District. Not content with retirement she worked with Dr. She Ling Wong in Bennettsville and Rockingham, N. C., and in 1997 she began working at Fantasy Harbour in Myrtle Beach.
Mrs. Kirkley was a member of the Concord United Methodist Church in the Lucknow Community west of Bishopville and First United Methodist Church in Bennettsville. She was a member of the Katie McCall Newton Circle, and a member of various Bridge and Garden Clubs in Bennettsville. She was a very giving person, volunteering her time to the March of Dimes, American Red Cross, Florence Little Theatre, Give Kids the World, United Methodist Manor of the Pee Dee, 2003 Dixie Youth Baseball World Series, Senior Expo in Florence, Carolinas Hospital System, and was honored in 1991 for volunteering 800 plus hours at the Marlboro Park Hospital.
She was a wonderful person and educator who was always willing to give a helping hand and will be deeply missed by those who knew and loved her. As she stated in a newspaper article about her 30 years of service, she said "My theme song has always been, if I can help somebody as I travel on, then my living is not in vein."
Mrs. Kirkley's surviving family includes a brother, Dargan Watts, of Orlando, Fla., a sister, O’zella Williams, of Greenwood, a son, Jim Kirkley, of Gresham, SC, a granddaughter, Michelle Murphy, of Florence, SC, grandson-in-law, Michael Murphy, of Florence, four grandsons, Jeff, Chris, Jason and Jack Kirkley of Marion, three great grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews.
She is preceded in death by her husband, Jack B. Kirkley, her daughter, Jackie Carroll, two brothers, Curtis Watts and Blake Watts, and two sisters, Pansy Hatfield and Willie Bell Wright.
A memorial service will be held at 11:00am, Saturday, June 1st, 2013 at Concord United Methodist Church, 3121 Old Camden Highway in the Lucknow community, west of Bishopville.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, 322 Eighth Ave., 7th floor, New York, N. Y. 10001 or Concord United Methodist Church, c/o Mrs Bobbie Arrants, 1083 Stokes Bridge Rd. West, Bishopville, S. C. 29010.