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Mary Evelyn Kirking

August 31, 1920 November 14, 2018
Mary Evelyn Kirking
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Obituary for Mary Evelyn Kirking

[Mary] Evelyn Kirking nee Taber, 98

August 31, 1920 – November 14, 2018

Evelyn Taber was born to Chlora Equila Smith Taber and William Wilson Taber on a homestead near Tensed, Idaho on August 31, 1920. Evelyn passed away peacefully, surrounded by family, on November 14, 2018. The last surviving of five siblings, Evelyn was particularly close with her sister Ruth Munn, who passed away in 2003 at the age of 95.

Evelyn, whose smile could lift the heaviest of hearts, graduated from Coeur d’Alene High School in 1938, later working as a beautician after graduating from beauty school. On January 3, 1942, Evelyn married Hilbert Kirking—the love of her life—with whom she welcomed into the world Kerry, Clayton, and Karen, each precisely three years apart. After Hilbert’s untimely death in 1961, Evelyn never remarried, instead dedicating her life to her family, and running two successful businesses—a beauty shop and a ceramic shop—out of her home. Later, Evelyn worked as an office assistant with Richard Fullwiler, DDS until her retirement. Evelyn made sure her children never wanted for anything they needed, and taught them they could achieve whatever they wished, bending over backwards to ensure they could pursue their dreams.

Though she worked hard, Evelyn knew how to have a good time. Prior to World War II, she was known for her flashy red coat and love of Singapore Slings. She and Hilbert frequented the Ivalee, square dancing and relishing time with one another. After Hilbert’s death, Evelyn enjoyed sharing an afternoon bottle of Jacques Bonet bubbly with friends. Once they were young adults, Clayton and Karen enjoyed taking their mom out for some “boogying” at The Rathskeller. Evelyn didn’t stop having fun as she got older. Known to be fond of Bailey’s in her later years, she knocked back several shots of it with her granddaughters on her 97th birthday.

Evelyn loved to feed people and make things. Throughout her life, she was interested in arts, crafts, gardening, cooking, and baking. Her home in Dalton Gardens was a hub of neighborhood activity; all were welcome and well-fed. Never without a vegetable garden or a cow, Evelyn and her kids grew their own vegetables--enough for their own use and to sell--and made butter, cottage cheese, and ice cream from their beloved high butterfat cows. She passed her love of cooking on to her children and taught her grandchildren how to bake.

With her children grown, Evelyn left Dalton Gardens, initially living next door to Karen and her growing family in Cottage Grove, OR and later settling in Spokane to be near Kerry and his daughters. She worked for and later volunteered with Welcome Wagon. A dedicated poll worker, Evelyn made a point to instill in her grandkids the importance of voting - a right afforded to women only in the year Evelyn was born. Evelyn was an active member of St. John’s Cathedral in Spokane, where her son Kerry was ordained an Episcopal priest.

In 2008, Evelyn moved into assisted living and later skilled nursing in Seattle. Though unable to walk in her final years, Evelyn intently made the best of her circumstances, spending these years developing new relationships and strengthening existing ones. She learned about cities and countries around the world by making family of the caregivers, nurses, housekeepers, and staff at her skilled nursing community. Evelyn eagerly learned about their families, lives, and cultures. In doing so, she opened up her world and warmed theirs. After a DNA test unexpectedly uncovered a strongly British heritage, Evelyn (with her family’s help) began tracing her roots, proudly discovering distinguished lineages on both sides of her family. Inspired by these discoveries, Evelyn developed her trademark “royal wave,” using it to say goodbye to family even in her final weeks. Evelyn’s amazing way of making small places big and warm and small moments meaningful and memorable remained constant from her early days to her final one.

Evelyn is survived by her three children, Kerry (Judy) of Seattle, Clayton (Edward Sullivan) of New York City and Karen (Mike O’Malley) of Vancouver, WA. Also surviving her are two loving granddaughters Katie and Annie Kirking of Seattle, grandsons Sean and Aaron O’Malley of Warrenton, OR and Vancouver, WA respectively, and two great grandchildren, with a third – her namesake – due in March.

A graveside service will be held at Forest Cemetery in Coeur d’Alene on December 1st at 11:00 a.m.

Donations in lieu of flowers can be made to St. John’s Cathedral, Spokane dedicated for Canterbury Court’s Resident Gardens program. https://stjohns-cathedral.org/donate -select “other” and enter: “Canterbury Court’s Resident Gardens program”


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