Kirkpatrick receives Helping Hands Award

GLENVILLE — For her many acts of kindness and service to others, Geneva (Genny) Kirkpatrick is the 2017 recipient of the Helping Hands Award bestowed by the women of Gilmer County’s Marthas and Marys, an ecumenical group of church women with members from 14 congregations.

All are invited to a celebration of Genny’s life on Oct. 29 at 2 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Glenville.

Geneva Osteen Kirkpatrick was born 89 years ago in Bronson, Florida, to Lee and Geneva Osteen. She had two brothers, Lee and Richard Osteen. The family lived in Florida until her senior year in high school when they moved to Bainbridge, Georgia.

Her father Lee worked in a lumber company where he was the head filer of band and circular saws.

After Genny graduated from Bainbridge High School in l946, she went to Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C. She studied history and the Bible and earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in both fields. She was the first in her family to go to college.

During the summer, Genny went to West Virginia to teach Vacation Bible School. There she met Glenn Kirkpatrick, the minister who had made arrangements for Genny and her friend Vivian Genre to come to West Virginia to teach. A romance began blooming between Genny and Glenn, her family said.

At the end of the summer, Genny went back to North Carolina and taught all subjects to students at a public elementary school. Genny returned to West Virginia at Thanksgiving to plan their wedding with Glenn. There was a snowfall of 50 inches. She stayed at the home of Glenn’s parents, Blair and Della Kirkpatrick. On December 5, 1950, they were married at the First Baptist Church of Glenville.

The first church Genny went to in West Virginia was the Stewarts Creek Community Church. She still attends and has taught Sunday School there.

Genny and Glenn worked for the American Sunday School Union, a home missionary work program to establish churches where there were none. Meetings were held in homes and in one-room schools. Some churches were built during that time. Genny said, “All this happened without a plan, reminding me of the Bible verse, ‘All things work together for good.'”

The couple had three children. Glenn Joel Kirkpatrick and his wife Shirley live in Jane Lew, W.Va. Becky Kirkpatrick Oppe and her husband Jim live in Parkersburg. Genny and Glenn’s youngest son Robert Kirkpatrick was killed in a car crash in 2007. After several years of deteriorating health, Jenny’s husband Glenn died in 1990.

Genny has taken care of all the grandchildren which include: Joey’s children – Carrie Kirkpatrick, Tommy Kirkpatrick and Charlie Kirkpatrick; Becky and Jim’s children – Tiffany Oppe-Davis and Whitney Oppe; and Bobby’s daughter, Tara Kirkpatrick Eagleston. Genny has seven great grandchildren – Wyatt Kirkpatrick, Keegan Kirkpatrick, Ava Kirkpatrick, Luke Davis, Emma Davis, Kylie Eagleston, and Landyn Eagleston. Two other great grandchildren Julia and Oakley are in the hands of Jesus.

In the midst of living and raising children and grandchildren, Genny worked for the West Virginia Department of Welfare for two years and earned a Masters of Arts Degree in Special Education and Learning Disabilities from Marshall University while daughter Becky was in college. She was also taking care of their home and helping husband Glenn with ministries which was a full-time job in itself.

Then she began teaching special education students at Tanner, Troy, and Normantown. Genny took one of her Tanner students to Special Olympics games in Parkersburg and she was hooked. She became Director of Special Olympics in Gilmer County and served thirty years, which Genny says was a life- changing experience for her. Her students became active year round in basketball, volleyball, and track.

Under Genny’s direction, the Gilmer County Special Olympics Team became one of the most active in West Virginia. She was passionate about it and even took the students skiing. In 2016, Genny was the coach for the Special Olympics volleyball team. Students also participated in track and field, golf, basketball, softball, bowling, and other sports. Genny is particularly grateful for the help of community members Barry Leady, Martin and Melissa Hess, Gary and Charlotte Radcliff, Lloyd and Connie Stewart, Mary Bland Strickland, Becky McDaniel, Karen and Doug Wood, and many parents of students.

Genny took students to games in Parkersburg, Charleston, Huntington, Morgantown, and to Canaan Valley State Park for skiing. Some students went with her to Raleigh, North Carolina, by plane for the Special Olympics World Games. Genny says that it was her privilege to work with the students, parents, and coaches. She is grateful that Gilmer County gave the money for the students to participate.

Since retiring, she is writer, editor and publisher of the Gilmer County Retired School Employees News Letter distributed bi-monthly, which is something she truly loves doing. She has researched one-room Gilmer County schools and reported on them in the newsletter and found there were over 100 schools scattered up every hollow in Gilmer County. Her daughter refers to her as a “Cub Reporter.” She is also a board member for the Gilmer County Historical Society.

Daughter Becky Oppe says, “My mother never talks mean about people but just says she doesn’t understand their behavior. If any family member needed her, she was there, supporting us with her presence and care. She was there for her students in Sunday School, Bible School, Bible camp, and Special Olympics.”

The Women of Marthas and Marys are so pleased to honor one of our own members, Genny Kirkpatrick, for her long life of service to God, her family, children of Gilmer County, and to her community.