Leanna and James Ross Kilpatrick

- Thursday, January 19, 2023

Together Forever

Photo of Leanna and James Ross Kilpatrick  - -2023

Leanna Zachary Kilpatrick and James Ross Kilpatrick

Leanna and James Ross (“Ross”) Kilpatrick, both 80, have begun their heavenly journey, bound together in eternity as they were on earth. Leanna’s spirit was lifted up on January 16, 2023 after a long battle with Multiple Sclerosis. Ross was taken into the fold on January 19, 2023 after a brief illness. They are survived by their children Gina Kilpatrick (Joni Madison), Andy Kilpatrick (Sarah), and Stacy Kilpatrick Waldroop (Mark); four grandchildren, April and Aaron Waldroop and Emily and Ella Kilpatrick; Leanna’s brother, Eric Zachary; Ross’s sister, Betty Jean Parham Conard; nieces and nephews David Parham, Tina Parham Daniels, Donnie Parham, and Wendy Deitz and their families; and numerous extended family. They were preceded in death by Leanna’s parents, Walter and Wilhemine Zachary; Ross’s parents, Ross and Ruby Kilpatrick; and their nephew, Chris Zachary.

High school sweethearts, Leanna and Ross were each other’s first loves. They married in 1961, ever true to their wedding vows. Leanna attended Women’s College in Greensboro, NC and worked as a secretary for many years at Blue Cross Blue Shield in Chapel Hill, NC while Ross completed his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at UNC Chapel Hill and began his career. They lived in Chapel Hill until 1967 when they returned to their native Haywood County. At that time, Leanna became a full time stay at home mom and homemaker. Ross began work as a foreman at Champion Papers, working his way up to Vice President of Operations at the Canton mill. The couple moved to Florence, AL in 1984 while Ross worked at the Courtland, AL mill, again returning to Haywood County in 1989. Ross left Champion in 1992, embarking on an entrepreneurial journey. He owned and operated 3 restaurants, a time-keeping business and, for 21 years before retiring, a storage business.

Outside of work and child-rearing, Leanna and Ross were avid outdoors people. They both played golf and enjoyed the many parties at Springdale, Laurel Ridge, and Waynesville Country Clubs where they were members at various times. Summers were spent fishing, skiing, and making countless memories with family and friends at Lake Chatuge. Family hikes were a regular thing, as were weekend backpacking trips with their best friends the Burnettes, Curtises, and Kellys. The eight of them apparently swore secrecy about most details of those trips because the stories we remember always ended with “we will tell you about that when you’re old enough.” Old enough has yet to come.

As much as they were a couple, Leanna and Ross had their individual passions. Leanna relished getting her hands in the dirt and always surrounded her home with beautiful flowers and shrubs to attract the pollinators and birds she so loved. She kept a bountiful vegetable garden that yielded many a meal for the family. She delighted in homemaking and entertaining, taking pride in her tables at Thanksgiving and Christmas, or any gathering of family or friends in her home. As dedicated a mother as she was, she made time for all manner of activities from bridge club to belly dancing lessons, racquetball to aerobics classes, sunbathing (in a refrigerator box in cold months) to horseback riding. Leanna was outgoing, vivacious, and genuinely interested in people. She truly never met a stranger, with an ease of talking and listening to people that made them feel important and special, whoever they were. She also had a quiet, introspective side. She enjoyed Native American music, art, and traditions, loved solo walks in the woods for time in her “sitting tree,” was a voracious reader, and always reminded us to stop and smell the roses – a mantra imprinted on her by her beloved Uncle Ray.

Ross’s public interests stemmed from a call to community service. He believed in and lived by the Golden Rule and genuinely desired to help people become their best selves and to build community. He was a member of the Lion’s Club, Rotary Club, and Pigeon River Lodge No. 386. He served on several Boards, including Folkmoot, Haywood County Hospital, and Haywood Vocational Opportunities. During his time at Champion, he never lost focus on the people and the importance of the mill to the community.

Ross’s strong work and service ethic was surpassed only by his dedication to family. After a long day at work, he often came home to shoot hoops and throw softball in the back yard with the kids or take them up to Lake Logan to fish. He loved music, especially blues and R&B, and always had a video-recorded concert for the family to watch – volume cranked – at the holidays. Being a graduate of UNC, he was a Tar Heel through and through, rarely missing a televised football or basketball game, and taking the family to many a bowl game. The greatest example of his dedication was the care he provided Leanna in their later years. For the last 23 years, he was Leanna’s caregiver as MS took her ability to care for herself. Never has he wavered in his commitment to her, even in death.

Together, Leanna and Ross shared a long and happy life. They left a lasting impact on so many people, most especially their children. They instilled in us the importance of lasting relationships with life partners, family, friends, and extended family. They set a standard for treating others with dignity and respect that we strive to meet. We are so grateful for the village our parents built around us and will draw on it as we navigate this difficult time. Mom and Dad, we love you forever and we find comfort in knowing you are together again.

A celebration of life will be held at Central United Methodist Church in Canton, NC on Saturday, January 28, 2023 at 12:30pm. The family will receive friends at Central from 11-12 before the celebration. A private entombment service will be held on Sunday, January 29, 2023 at Crawford / Ray Memorial Gardens. The family would appreciate donations to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS), Sarge’s Animal Rescue Foundation, or The Community Kitchen in Canton, NC.

Crawford / Ray Funeral Home and Cremation Service is honored to be caring for the Kilpatrick family.


Condolences from family and friends

My heart just dropped reading the first line of this announcement. I’m so very sorry for the magnitude of heartbreak this has brought to your family. For them to go together is bittersweet. A romantic yet excruciating exit. I’m praying for you all as you go through these days recalibrating your lives, and trying to find your peace with their passing.
Judy Fisher Sylvester
I remember Ross when he was my foreman and later as the mill manager at the Canton mill. He was one of the good guys and was respected by all of the employees. Condolences to the family.
Carroll Israel
My thoughts and prayers are with your family during this most difficult time. They lived life together and now Will spend eternity together. What a blessing. Both healed.
Sheri Dixon-Henson
I am so sorry for the loss for this family. Please know God is with you and will guide you through your sorrow!
Bernice Clark
Kilpatrick family , so sad to hear of the passing of your parents , we were the recipients of thiis gracious couples friendship . Our prayers for you all . They will be missed here , But it’s Heavens gain .
Sam and JeanHenson.
We are so sorry for your loss. Praying for God’s peace to bring you comfort and His strength to face the days ahead. Hold precious memories in your hearts and thanksgiving for their eternal home with Jesus. Love in Christ ❤️
Bart & Debi DeRosso
Oh my goodness, I think my heart skipped several beats as I read both of your parents passing. Gina Stacy and Andy, what a wonderful set of parents God chose for you. I think I have known you guys all my life. When we were younger and spent so much time at the lake together, those are some of the best memories of my childhood. I'm so thankful that I knew your parents. I remember sitting in the kitchen at the lake with you mom and her just having conversation with me and loving on me. Both had a huge influence on me. Please know I am thinking about and praying for you all. Lots of Love! Kristen
Kristen Moore Love
Wow what a life and a legacy they leave behind. The unity of marriage doing life together and then to leave together. Praying for the family the God who comforts all. He will never leave you nor forsake any of you. Continue to pray for you all Samantha Ledford LifeWorks
Samantha Ledford
Gina: My heart goes out to you, your sister and brother. All my love❤️
John Taylor
In the 1950’s we lived on Pisgah Dr and I went to school with both Leanna and Ross. In the summer we used to hang out under the street light by Leanna’s house in the evening and play games and talk. She was always the center of attention and a joy to be around. Ross and I played JV basketball in the ninth a tenth grade. I was taller but he was a better player. He also got the cute girl. I met them again at our fiftieth reunion. Truly two lives well lived. So sad to have have gotten this email and so so sorry for your loss but you all have so much to be proud of in your parents lives.
Joe Kaplan
My thoughts and prayers are with you during this time of earthly sorrow and heavenly rejoicing. May God give you a peace that passes all understanding
Tommy Southall
This completely breaks my heart. Love these two. My neighbor for many of my younger years! Please know that the entire family is in my prayers. So many memories from Plott Farm
Debbie Clark Allen
Stacey and family: We are so sorry to learn of your parents passing but know they are forever in love throughout eternity.
Sharon and Wally Hill
My thoughts and prayers are with your family.
Barbara Stamey
My deepest condolences to your dear family.
Lisa Devlin Patten
Lives well lived. My deepest sympathy to all of the family. God bless you always.
Juanita Dixon
I am completely heartbroken by this news. I grew up next door to this family. They were wonderful people and always treated me and my sisters as family. I pray for comfort for the family.
Jim Clark
Our condolences to all the family of Ross and Leanna’s family We were blessed to have known and worked with Ross during his years at Champion. It was a privilege to have known them.
Bobby and JoAnn Messer
My heart is breaking. I went to high school with Leanna and James Ross. They were both such wonderful individuals! My heart goes out to their family. But I am so glad they found each other at young ages and lived the lives they loved together. May memories of them live in your hearts forever.
Carol Newman McKibben
To the family of Ross and Leanna, I'm overwhelmed with this news about your parents. Such a very sweet story about them and their love for each other. I played bridge with Leanna years ago. Such a sweet person Leanna was. They are still together now for ever. Sending prayers and love to you. Robin
Robin Cabe-Smith
So sorry to hear about Leanna and Ross' passing. They were the epitome of true love and devotion to each other - a model for others! They lived a fulfilling life together and gave back to the community in so many ways while teaching their children the value of that trait. Their life was indeed exemplary, and those of us who knew them were enriched by that experience. My condolences to Eric, and the children and their families during this difficult time.
Richard Hurley
I’m so sorry for your loss. I knew Leanna when she was at UNCG and was at their wedding and visited them in Chapel Hill. I was happy to read what a wonderful life they had together. I’m sorry we lost touch over the years.
Anne Dean Popper
Such wonderful memories I cherish of our growing up years . Both of you will be loved and missed forever and always in my heart. May you Rest in Peace and suffer no more …. Love Eunice Ward
Eunice Robinson Ward
Dear Stacy, I was so saddened to see your parents obituaries. I know it has to be terribly hard losing them both so close together! But it sounds like a life of love lived to the fullest! Know that you are in our prayers!!
Terry and Carolyn Jones
Gina and family, Words cannot describe the shock I felt in reading of the loss of both your parents.my heart goes out to you and your family and praying for peace during this difficult time. Their heavenly love continues together. Praying for peace and healing in the days to come.
Kerry Owen
Our hearts are broken. We have so many family memories to cherish. From Christmases to Fourth of July at the lake. They had their special place at the table making sure Leanna could always get her chair on the porch. James Ross always knew he could call when getting home and could not find Leanna phone or part to her chair. We will love and miss you always. David, Janice,Nicholas,Adam and Katey
Janice Parham
Our thoughts & prayers with all of you through this tough time . In ours & their younger years we were all at UNC-Chapel Hill, Ross & Johnny students, we were very good friends & had many fun times together. I worked with Leanna at Blue Cross Blue Shield, she always wanted me to go with her on the roof top (they had lounge area for employees) at Blue Cross during lunch time to lay out in the sun, she loved a suntan. We were all poor (financial) therefore we had limited funds, however we always managed to enjoy great times.. We had communicated over the years, but we loss contact when they moved several times. Thinking of all of you at this time, precious memories that we have of Ross & Leanna & know those precious memories will get you through this time of sorrow also. They will be missed by all & how sweet to live a beautiful life together & end it together. Thoughts & prayers with you! Hugs, Jean & Johnny King 4606 Oakcliffe Rd Greensboro, NC
Johnny & Jean King, Greensboro, North Carolina
Gina, Stacy and Andy...My prayers and thoughts will be with you. May God's mercy give you comfort knowing that their suffering has ended, and are at peace together as always. Love you all!
Kathy Ammons
My heart aches for you all. After reading this beautiful love story, I realize that Stacey, you are just like your momma. Love you!
Kimmie Thomason
In my thoughts and prayers.
Mark Rogers
Gina, Joni, and family. Our sincerest condolences on the loss of your parents. We did not have the privilege to know them but from their loving obituary they sound like incredible people, an awesome couple, and amazing parents who both had lives well-lived. We're sure their legacy will live on through all of you. Thinking of you as you navigate these difficult days.
Jim Rinefierd and Dan Anderson
I have known them since Jr High. There were none better.
Robert (Bobby) Wright Jr.
Betty Jean and family, so sorry to hear about Ross and Leanna. My Condolences and prayers for comfort. Love Debbie
Debbie Mehaffey Moore
Played many rounds of golf with Ross, always envied his game. More importantly enjoyed his gracious company. Life well lived, condolences to the family.
Ken Wilson
“There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in our hearts.” ~Mahatma Gandhi Gina, Andy, Stacy and Eric and to all those that Ross and Leanna hold dear, You are in our immediate thoughts and prayers… When our family moved to Haywood County in 1978; we were instantly surrounded by the bond of friendship and community that only Haywood County people can extend. As Central Methodist brought us into their fold … the most vivacious, eccentric little couple adopted our family; of course with Walter and Wilhemine one did not have a choice as to whether we would follow… You just did … but during these initial introductory years; I began to hear about their Leanna and Ross. And if one did not know any different ... one would have thought that Ross was their son. One name was never spoken; always 2 …. From the stories told it was as if these two people had been destined from before time to always be together. I observed as the years went by as to their magic and only hoped that I would one day experience the same. They were both very much their own individuals but they were still one. I feel one of the key elements to their splendor besides their extremely close-knit family was “Their Tribe”…. The Curtises, The Burnettes, The Kellys, and The Kilpatricks …. 8 Wonderful, Giving, Civic Minded Individuals that had a bond of special friendship that is rarely seen much less experienced. If we all could be so fortunate and blessed to have this type of camaraderie in a Life time we would be among the few. They each had a certain something that fed the strength of their closeness. No one couple out shown the other and they each lived life to their fullest… and to those of us looking in with envy … Well, we would soon be drawn in and engulfed to the extent that one felt raised up with them to a higher plateau…. So Grateful to the 8 of you for the utmost example of A Full Life!!! The loss is immeasurable of these 2 beings but so is the love that they left behind. God Speed Ross and Leanna With Sincere Sympathy, Steve and Donna Ball-Metcalf, Gary and Janet Coates-Ball, Gordon and DeAnna Ledford-Ball So basically, they left us with the following: “We are all stories in the end, remembered by the adventures we had, the achievements we made and the people we loved. So make sure your story is a good one.” ~Nishan Panwar
Donna Ball-Metcalf
One of the most beautiful tributes to parents I've ever read, It says all that can be said about their lives of love ,devotions and Christian example . You are truly blessed to have had such examples and to be comforted to knowing that they are able to be continue eternity together. God Bless and comfort you
Denny and Marlene Cole
Our hearts are with you today. We love you so much. Their love and devotion to each other is a tremendous lesson for us all. Peace to you all!
Ray and Alison Frazier