WHITEHALL - Barbara H. Kingsley, a longtime educator and leader of local civic organizations, died Sunday, one day short of her 87th birthday. Family members were at her side.
Mrs. Kingsley’s teaching career spanned six decades and touched the lives of generations of grade schoolers in Whitehall and neighboring communities. After “retiring” in 1997 with 36 years as a full-time teacher, she continued to teach regularly as a substitute for another 19 years.
Mrs. Kingsley participated in a variety of community organizations, often serving in leadership roles. She was president of the Business and Professional Women (BPW) and chair of the Washington County Republican Women. Other groups in which she was an officer or member included the Hospital Guild, Library Board, Art Club, Brick Church Association, Catholic Daughters of America and the Black Point Civic Association.
But it was her long teaching career for which she was best known. She could hardly walk down the street in Whitehall without encountering a former student who wanted to say hello or reminisce about how she pushed students to do their best or scolded them when they got out of line.
She was well regarded by administrators and colleagues as a skilled and caring teacher, who put the interests of her students first. Her golden rule in teaching, she often explained, was a simple one: “Treat the children the way you would want to be treated.”
Mrs. Kingsley was born Barbara Jane Hill on October 15, 1931, in Ticonderoga, NY, the youngest of four children. Her father was an electrician, and her mother was a skilled cook and seamstress.
Mrs. Kingsley graduated from Ticonderoga High School in 1949. She was a strong student, a cheerleader and was elected queen of the prom. Her mother made her prom dress by hand.
Mrs. Kingsley was the first in her family to attend college and graduated from Cortland State College with a B.S. in education in 1954. She saved for college by working as a telephone operator and paid her expenses by scrubbing college bathrooms for 30 cents an hour.
Mrs. Kingsley balanced her career and civic engagements with a full and busy family life.
She married Robert Kingsley, a Whitehall businessman, the same year she graduated from college, and the couple had six children.
From an earlier residence in the Village of Whitehall the family moved outside town to a 19th Century farmhouse on Brick Church Road that became an important new center point for family life and activities. Mrs. Kingsley and her husband enjoyed long walks in the fields behind the stately brick farmhouse and its many outbuildings, some dating back to the late 1700’s.
In her “retirement” Mrs. Kingsley liked to spend time at the family camp on Lake George. You could often see Mrs. Kingsley sitting on the large porches at the farm in East Whitehall, receiving visitors or just enjoying the outdoors. After her husband died in 2001, organizing and managing the work needed to maintain the 300-acre farm and its buildings and grounds became a major focus of her time. She took great pride in the state of the property when the farm became a featured stop on a tour of historic farms of Washington County. She was happy to show it off once again when it became the site of her granddaughter Jessica’s wedding in 2013.
In addition to her husband, Mrs. Kingsley was predeceased by her two brothers, Richard and Robert Hill of Ticonderoga; and by her sister, Nancy Tierney, also of Ticonderoga. To the many Ticonderoga relatives Mrs. Kingsley was always “Aunt Jane,” a use of her middle name, while back in Whitehall she was “Aunt Barb” or just Mrs. Kingsley.
She is survived by her six children: Robert (Catherine) of Alexandria, VA; Jane Lavin of Whitehall; Nancy Harrington of Queensbury, Tom (Isabelle) of Pittsford, VT, Susan Burns (Christopher) of Eagle River, AK, and Mark (Yoko) of Hollis, NH.
Other survivors include 15 grandchildren: Jared, Jessica, Jason, Daniel, Guy, Isabelle, Thomas, Mary, William, Aya, Christopher, Claire, Collin, Caroline, Caleb; two great-grandchildren: Reese and Owen; and many nieces and nephews.
Calling hours will be held from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, at the Jillson Funeral Home, 46 Williams St., Whitehall.
Catholic Daughters will meet for prayers with Deacon Robert Wubbenhoust at 5:45pm at the funeral home.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m. Friday, Oct. 19, at the Our Lady of Hope Roman Catholic Church, Whitehall, with Reverand Thomas Morette officiating. Burial will follow in the family plot at Brick Church Cemetery.