Ruth Mary Wise Kirkland

Ruth Mary Wise
Ruth Mary Wise Kirkland passed away after an illness peacefully into the arms of Jesus on Wednesday, September 14, 2022 in the presence of her family. A funeral service was held in First Baptist Church of Darlington on Sunday, September 18 at 2:00pm, burial will follow at Grove Hill Cemetery.
Ruth Mary was born June 24, 1934 in Decatur, AL the first daughter of Dr. Owen F. Wise and Louise Jones Wise. Ruth Mary was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by her husband of 64 years, Lt. Col. Bennie H. Kirkland; sister, Laurie King Wise of Atlanta, GA; son, Alan F. Kirkland (Meg) of Mars Hill, NC; daughter, Mary Dickson Kelley (William) of Olanta, SC; grandchildren, Cyprian Clay Dickson (Alexandria) of Charlotte, NC; Kirkland Elizabeth Dickson of Washington, DC; Mallory and Liam Kirkland of Mars Hill, NC; and great-grandson Ben Dickson.
Ruth Mary graduated from Sidney Lanier High School in Montgomery, AL in 1952 where she was a cartoonist for the school newspaper, editor of the yearbook, and played clarinet in the symphonic band. She was also voted “most original” in the senior “Who’s Who”.
Ruth Mary was a 1956 graduate of Auburn University with a degree in Applied Art. She won the Burton Award (art excellence). She was President of the Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority, vice-president of the Auburn Chapter of the Mortar Board.
She was also chosen as a favorite for the “Glomerata” (the year book). As a sophomore she was a summer counselor and crafts instructor at Camp Dixie for Girls in Clayton, GA. While working as an artist with an advertising agency in Montgomery, she met and married Lt. Ben Kirkland in 1958.
She embarked on a varied life, living in Florida, Texas, Japan, Illinois, Nebraska, California, Hawaii, Alabama, and South Carolina. In many places they lived she taught Sunday School and was always glad to use her art in any way she was asked for civic and church events.
She especially took joy in being able to serve the Lord with her art work. Art had always been very important in her life and she worked in an advertising agency’s art department until her marriage. From then on she became a professional free-lance artist, enjoying every opportunity as an adventure.
She also exhibited in juried art shows and had several one person shows. After her husband’s retirement from the USAF in 1972, the family moved to Jacksonville, Alabama to be near their families.
There she was active in the local Gideons Auxiliary of the Gideons International, served as a Guide for the Christian Women’s Club Bible Studies, was Museum Director to the Gen. John H. Forney Chapter of the UDC, President of the Annie Forney Daugette Garden Club, and was active in the Jacksonville Heritage Association producing six “Historical Homes and Places” tour brochures. While living in Jacksonville, Ruth Mary did over 50 pen and ink drawings on commission of historic homes and places. From these she developed a line of note paper and prints for marketing.
In 1999, she and her husband moved to Darlington, SC to be with their recently widowed daughter and her two small children. Living in Darlington was a joy to Ruth Mary as she cherished being with family, her church and new friends.
In Darlington she was active in the Gideon’s Auxiliary, her WMU Circle, the Darlington Study Club and her bridge club. She was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother and Christian who loved the Lord and teaching God’s Word.
Memorials may be made to the Gideons International PO Box 140800. Nashville, TN. 37214.
A guestbook is available online at

Author: Stephan Drew

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