Age 94, Shenandoah, Va.
Lena Carolyn Ringle Kite, 94, was born July 7, 1926, in Shenandoah, Va., and passed peacefully there on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. She lived all of her life within one block of the house where she was born to Andrew Christian and Lillian Monger Ringle.
She was married to Gleen David Kite on June 22, 1946 at the family home by the Rev. R. Marvin White of Fields Methodist Church. They shared 69 years of marriage until Gleen’s death on Jan. 5, 2015.
By her first birthday, her parents had taken her to Fields (United) Methodist Church where she became a lifelong member at the age of 12. This bond proved to be an enormous facet of her life as she was involved in Sunday School, Bible School, plays and singing groups as a child. She began to show her leadership talents for teaching classes, singing in the choir and joined a circle of the Women’s Society of Christian Service as a teenager. As an adult, Lena was a Sunday School Superintendent and Bible School Director and taught every age group over the years, including the Adult Class. Virtually every dramatic event staged at Fields for more than 50 years was under the direction of Kite, including 19 annual Maundy Thursday productions of “The Living Last Supper.” Believing all vocal and instrumental church music was worship, she served as Fields’ choir director for over 35 years. A member of the Fields United Methodist Women and its predecessor organizations, she served as president of the UMW for two decades. Kite was on the board of Food for Friends and then served as FFF president and was responsible for organizing the menus and volunteers from participating churches.
Lena graduated from Shenandoah High School in 1943. She was a member of the Shenandoah Alumni Association since that time. Following her graduation from high school, she enrolled in Madison College for a two-year Secretarial Program. After one year of study, she was offered a job with the Norfolk and Western Railroad as a stenographer (official N&W title “clerk”) in the office of T.J. Jensen, Signal Supervisor. She went to work in the Shenandoah Yard Office of the Norfolk and Western Railroad on “D-Day” – June 6, 1944 and worked there until Dec. 31, 1948. She left this job to “start a family” at the end of 1948. When school began in the fall of 1957, the business teacher left and, as there was no teacher to teach those skills, she was contracted to teach typing, shorthand and bookkeeping on a special license. She returned to Madison to complete her degree. Because of scheduling difficulties with business classes, an available course in Psychology changed the direction of her life. By completing classes part time in summers and nights, she was able to earn a Bachelor of Science in Psychology just one year before her oldest child completed high school. She was very proud to count 10 graduates of James Madison University among her next-generation immediate family members. Go Dukes!
Another opportunity opened to Kite in the late 1950s as Guidance Counselors were added to school faculties. In response to the successful launch of Russia’s Sputnik satellite, students were to be encouraged to study Math and Science. Kite was called upon to begin a new program called “Guidance.” To prepare, she enrolled in the University of Virginia to earn a Master’s Degree in Counselor Education. In 1961, when Page County High School opened, Kite developed the Guidance Program for the new school. She always said her life “was touched by the over 6,000 students she had known.” Many would speak to her over the years, always asking if she remembered them and amazingly, she could put a name with just about every face!
The last job she had before a “real” retirement was operating the family greenhouse/nursery business, Plants-a-Plenty. She and her husband, Gleen, mostly enjoyed visiting with their customers and traveling to Harrisonburg for supplies while the employees were planting and running the business! Getting up early every morning kept them young for a long time!
Lena was the oldest child in her family. All three of Lena’s siblings predeceased her: Peggy Joyce Ross (Charles), William Orville Ringle (Alice), and Betty Joanne Sullivan (Jullian).
Survivors also include two sisters-in-law: Imogene Kite Hull of Waynesboro, Va., and Phyllis Beaghan Kite of Stuarts Draft, Va.
She is survived by three children and their spouses: Richard (Rick) David Kite and wife, Janice, of Asheboro, N.C.; Susan Kite Painter and husband, Steve of Shenandoah; and Penny Kite Markowitz and husband, Powell of Luray. Also surviving are six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren: Leigh Kite Hickman (Rob), Luke and Caroline Hickman; David Kite (Jodi); Rebekah Painter Harsh (Jeremy), Emmy and Eli Harsh; Ben Markowitz (Carrie), Hannah, Everett, and Norah Markowitz; Adam Markowitz; and Whitney Markowitz Lilly (Will), Finnegan and Maxton Lilly.
Kite was cremated, as she wished. Plans are to have a Celebration of Life in the Summer of 2021, if COVID-19 is under control. Lena’s family feels it is imperative that they respect the science around this virus and avoid contact with others.
Memorial gifts may be sent to Fields United Methodist Church, c/o Lisa Shenk, Financial Secretary, 65 Yagers Road, Luray, VA 22835 or Fields United Methodist Church, 501 Senior Ave., Shenandoah with Fields on notation line.
Condolences may be shared at www.kygers.com.
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