Published in The Examiner on Apr. 1, 2017 1929 - 2017
Lillian May (Henderson) Kirby, 87, of Blue Springs, Missouri, passed away peacefully on Saturday, March 25, 2017, at The Groves, in Independence, Missouri, with her loving family by her side.
Lillian was born on October 22, 1929, in Washington, D.C., the daughter of the late Melvin and Lillian (Wilkinson) Henderson. She was predeceased by her infant sister, Diane Henderson, and her former husbands, Robert Carr of Maryland and Bill Bayless of Springfield, Missouri.
She was a graduate of Anacostia High School, Class of 1946, attended Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa, 1946-47, and Peabody Conservatory of Music in Maryland, 1947-1948. Lillian graduated from Cecil College, while managing her husband's dental practice, and raising her 5 children. She moved to Springfield, Missouri in 1980, where she took great joy in caring for her oldest grandsons. While in Springfield, she graduated from Missouri State University, with a Bachelor of Arts-Cum Laude and was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi honor society.
Lillian taught painting and writing classes for the Springfield Adult Education program, as an adjunct faculty for Ozarks Technical Community College. She enjoyed tutoring English as a second language and touched many lives through her skills. Lillian was an avid painter and left a legacy of hundreds of paintings. A common creative thread of art and music provided her many hours of enjoyment, enriching her church by providing musical accompaniment. Lillian had a beautiful soprano voice and enjoyed singing with the Auditorium Chorus for the annual performance of Handel's Messiah in Independence, Missouri.
Lillian moved to Blue Springs, Missouri, in 1996, to help raise her younger grandchildren and enjoyed the companionship that comes with daily visits from the kids in an active family. She was always ready with a snack, craft, song or story.
Lillian was an ordained minister in the Community of Christ and served as an Elder. She was a devout member for over 70 years and was honored to serve as Chaplain at the Temple in Independence, where she enjoyed meeting people from all over the world and all walks of life. Lillian was a prolific writer and published many daily devotionals and worship materials, which were used by the international church. Her devotion to the church, and her calling, was unwavering and was a path of light that she followed her whole life.
Lillian is survived by her husband, Technical Sergeant Don Kirby, U.S. Air Force (Ret.); and her five children, Dennis (Meredith) Carr and Brian (Jenn) Carr of Elkton, Maryland, Sharon Carr Jenkins (Roy) of Springfield, Missouri, Lauren Carr (Kevin Gard) and Robin Carr Hulse (Eddie) of Blue Springs, Missouri.
She is also survived by her 17 grandchildren, 7 great-grandchildren, 2 stepdaughters, many nieces, nephews, cousins, and her sisters, Dorothy Gundling, of Bluffton, South Carolina, Faith Beers, of Bradenton, Florida, and Janet Irby, of Novato, California. The four sisters were the bedrock of the large, energetic Henderson clan, and Lillian was blessed to have such loving family to accompany her through all the chapters of her life.
A Celebration of Life service will be held on April 15, at 10:30 a.m., at the Colonial Hills Community of Christ church, 3539 S.W. Missouri 7, Blue Springs, MO 64015.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial contribution can be made to the Temple Endowment Fund, in memory of Lillian Kirby, Community of Christ, c/o Presiding Bishopric, 1001 W. Walnut St., Independence, MO 64050.