Ernestine Stewart Kinsey of Wilmington, North Carolina, formerly of Bolivar, passed away on Thursday, Sept. 24, at Bradley Creek Assisted Living. 

She was preceded in death by her husband, James Woodrow Kinsey.

Ernestine was born Oct. 30, 1928, to Harold and Elva Stewart and graduated from Bolivar High School in 1946. She later attended then-Southwest Baptist College, earning an associate’s degree. 

She then worked for the Polk County Welfare Office during the 1950s. In the early 1960s, she attended then-Southwest Missouri State earning a bachelor’s degree in education. 

Starting in 1964, she entered the Bolivar School System, teaching first as an elementary school teacher before moving to Mitchell Junior High School. During this time, she earned a master’s degree from then-Drury College. She remained at this position until her retirement in 1993.

While Ernestine’s avocation resided in the teaching profession, her true passion consisted of Democrat politics. Her first exposure to politics started with her father, who was local party chairman in Bolivar and was always involved in local and state elections. Later, she elevated her political stature, running successfully as a national delegate to the Democratic Convention in 1980 in New York City. Some 28 years later, she again ran as a national delegate to the Democratic Convention in Denver. It was her hope that her example as a delegate in 1980 would inspire other women to become active in politics.

Ernestine is survived by her sister Harlene Esther of Bolivar; a son, Tim (Cynthia Bowers) Wilmington and their children, Rachael Kinsey of Wilmington, Jacob Kinsey of Virginia, and Rebecca Kinsey Angel of South Bend, Indiana; two great-grandchildren, Jason and Kyuss; and a niece, Roberta Doke of Bolivar.

Visitation for Ernestine will be from 11 a.m. to noon Friday, Oct. 2, at Butler Chapel in Bolivar, with funeral services at noon at the funeral home and a graveside memorial following the service at Greenwood Cemetery.

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