Reba Wilson Kennedy, age 91, entered into glory on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at Oaks at Cedar Shoals in Athens, Georgia, with her family by her side. Born on December 7, 1930, she was the youngest child of J. Linton and Julia Purvis Burkhalter Wilson of Mendes, Georgia. Her siblings, all deceased, were half-brothers Peyton, Earl, and Prentice Burkhalter and Earl Wilson, and half-sisters Leola Sands, Mildred (Midge) Durrence, and Lois Durrence.
Reba graduated from Glennville High School in 1947 and went to Georgia Teachers College, now Georgia Southern University, completing the Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education degree in 1951. She began her 53-year teaching career at Reidsville Elementary School after graduating, teaching third and fourth grades. She met her husband of 68 years, Jimmy H. Kennedy, while teaching, and they married on August 2, 1953. Reba continued teaching until 1965, when her daughter, Emma, was born, and she stayed home with her. In 1970 she returned to teaching and taught at Pinewood Christian Academy in Bellville, Georgia, until 1980. She was one of the charter faculty members of the school, and Jimmy was on the Board of Directors. After a brief period of teaching GED classes, she returned to Reidsville Elementary School, teaching second grade. She loved teaching reading to students, particularly those who struggled with learning to read. She won Teacher of the Year award both at Pinewood and at Reidsville Elementary. Reba retired from teaching in 2010. Reba and Jimmy moved to Athens in the summer of 2019 to be closer to their daughter and her family and resided at Oaks at Cedar Shoals assisted living facility. The family is very appreciative of the supportive care provided by the staff there, as they assisted Jimmy, her primary caregiver.
Reba also taught piano to children in the Reidsville area for many years. She was the pianist at Loves Chapel Primitive Baptist Church, her home church, and when she and Jimmy joined Reidsville Baptist Church, she was the pianist there for 30 years until she could no longer play due to arthritis.
Reba is survived by her husband of 68 years, Jimmy H. Kennedy, her daughter and son-in-law, Emma and Marvin Pettyjohn, two grandsons, Calvin and Conner Pettyjohn, and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
A celebration of life will be held on Monday, March 28, at 2:00 p.m. at Reidsville Baptist Church, with Dr. Chuck Jonas officiating. Visitation will be Sunday, March 27, beginning at 5 p.m. at Low Country Cremation and Burial in Reidsville. The body will be taken to the church at 1:00 p.m. Monday to lie in state. Pallbearers will be grandsons Calvin and Conner Pettyjohn, Terry Carter, Devin Durrence, Garland Smith, and Lamar Smith. Interment will be at Reidsville City Cemetery. Memorial gifts may be made to Reidsville Baptist Church, Reidsville, Ga.
Low Country Cremation and Burial is serving the family.