BY BEVERLY SMALLS, CONTRIBUTING WRITER
The life of Katherine Jervay Tate was memorialized Wednesday in Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church. An opening hymn, “Amazing Grace,” set the tone for a celebration of life.
Born in Wilmington March 27, 1949, ‘Kitty,’ as she was affectionately known, died in Atlanta, Georgia, January 27. A member of North Carolina’s Jervay publishing family, she worked in every capacity of journalism and became the office manager and eventually publisher of the Wilmington Journal.
Family, classmates, and community friends packed the church that she loved according to her brother-in-law, the Rev. John L. Thatch who delivered the sermon, Change from the Mortal to Immortality.
“She was my sister … and I was her brother,” Thatch said. “She loved the Lord, her family, St. Mark’s Church, and the community.”
The Rev. Cannon Victor Frederiksen, officiated the service that included scripture readings and tributes that gave glimpses of the kind and giving spirit that Kitty shared with others throughout her life.
Vernice Hamilton who worked closely with the youngest child of the late Thomas C. Jervay and Willie Etha Devane Jervay spoke of how Kitty learned the business and journalism details from her father. She chose to share such important and valuable knowledge with Hamilton and others.
John Bellamy, President of the Williston Class of 1967 disclosed that Kitty was always supportive of their special projects and reunions. As he read a resolution more than thirty classmates stood in honor of the deceased. The words focused sentiments regarding her smile and gentle spirit.
School affiliations included status as chief majorette, the Crown and Scepter Club, and Tri-Hi-Y organizations, the Royalist Social Club, the Williston Library Club, and a written voice by the students –The (Williston) Echo staff.
Beyond church and school participations, the family’s covenant with community was emphasized in the delivery of Dr. Joyce Jones. “The entire Jervay family was planted in the heart of the community, and they’ve never moved.” N.C. Representative Susie Hamilton echoed those feelings in a written communique to the family.
Supportive friends smiled and allowed for verbal “Amens” as fellow Willistonian, Marva Mapson Robinson completed The Lord’s Prayer solo. Lacey Tate, husband of the deceased provided a soulful rendition of “Precious Lord” prior to Holy Communion.
Kitty Jervay’s roles as a loving wife, mother, sister, aunt, and “sweet friend” were complemented by verbal and written memories of her unique roles in the local Civil Rights Movement, the Washington, D.C. March On Washington, the “Free The Wilmington Ten” initiative. A life member of the NAACP, she also worked with the Wilmington Chapter of Jack and Jill, Inc.
Interment in Oleander Gardens provides a final resting place for Katherine Jervay Tate. The souvenir program from Wednesday’s memorial service includes a fitting and poetic ending in her honor.
God Danced The Day You Were Born
You are loved; you are beautiful; you are a gift of God
God’s gift of love to us. You are His;
God danced the day you were born.
Daddy and Mama waited and received us
With God’s embracing love.
We were their tender little babies,
Created from above.
Today we celebrate your life as God has welcomed you
into heaven with Daddy, Mama, and Tommy.
Your sister forever,
Katherine Jervay Tate was born in Wilmington, North Carolina on March 27, 1949, and departed this earthly life on January 27, 2015, at Halcyon Hospice Center in Atlanta, Georgia. She was the daughter of the late Mr. Thomas C. Jervay, Sr. and the late Mrs. Willie Etha DeVane Jervay. She was preceded in death by her parents and her brother, Thomas C. Jervay, Jr.
She attended the public schools of New Hanover County and graduated from Williston Senior High School in 1967, where she was chief majorette of the famous Williston Band and a member or the Queen’s Court. She was also a member of the Crown and Scepter Club and the Tri-H-Y Club, the Royalists Social Club, the Library Club and the Echo staff. Upon completion of her education, she was joined in holy matrimony to Mr. Lacy Tate. To this union two sons, Lacy and Robert, were born.
At a very early age, she gave her life to the Lord and walked with Him daily until death. As a child, she joined Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church in Wilmington and remained a member until death. She very much loved the Sunday school at St. Mark’s.
She worked diligently for many years in the family business, The Wilmington Journal, as the office manager and as a photographer. After her father’s death, she became publisher of the weekly paper and remained in that position until her retirement and illness in 1996.
During the Civil Rights Movement, she was a strong and vibrant voice against social and economic injustice, starting with her high school days. She grew up in a home where her family constantly lived with threats and intimidation. Rather than resort to the background in fear, she was always at the front line, beginning with the arrests of young people in Wilmington in 1963. She spent time in jail as a student protestor and, during that long hot summer, protested and demonstrated with the NAACP and the Youth Chapter of the NAACP every day. She also participated that year in the March on Washington. She was an advocate and a supporter of the Wilmington Ten and the student protestors during the 1970’s.
She worked long and hard in her roles as daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, businesswoman, freedom fighter and friend.
She held a life membership in the New Hanover County NAACP and faithfully paid the yearly dues of her grandchildren until she could no longer afford to. She was also a member of the Williston Alumni Association and the Wilmington Chapter of Jack and Jill, Inc.
She was a member of the National Newspaper Publishers Association and was once secretary of the North Carolina Publishers Association.
She enjoyed one of the fruits of her labor, dining out in the restaurants of her choice.
She loved the Lord, and she loved people. She will be greatly missed by those who knew and loved her. She leaves to mourn her passing and to cherish her memories the following: husband, Lacy Tate, two sons, Robert and Lacy Tate, thirteen grandchildren and six great grandchildren, a sister, Mary Alice Jervay Thatch (Rev. John L. ) several nieces and nephews, a very special caretaker, Theresa Lynn Tate, and other relatives and friends. A Service of John H. Shaw’s Son Funeral Home.