TUSCALOOSA Elisabeth Kirk McNair died October 19, 2013, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She was born in Rowes Run, Pennsylvania on May 29, 1924, and was the second of the three daughters of Ralph Emerson Kirk and Katherine Willard Kirk. The family moved to Birmingham, Alabama in 1936 when her father was named superintendent of coal mines at Tennessee Coal and Iron, a division of US Steel. Elisabeth attended Avondale Elementary School and Ramsay High School where she graduated at age 15. She entered Auburn at age 16 and there met Woody McNair from Union Springs. In 1942 they were married in Charleston, SC where Woody was stationed during World War II, after which they moved to Birmingham and raised their family. They were members of the Independent Presbyterian Church.
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In the 1960s Elisabeth returned to college to complete the education interrupted by the war. She earned the B.A. and the M.A. degrees in history with honors at Samford University in Birmingham. She was certified to teach in many subjects, including history, English, French, medical terminology and biology, but she is remembered primarily for teaching Latin. In Birmingham she taught at Alverson Draughon, The Misses Howards' School, Huffman High School and the Brooke Hill School for Girls as well as its successor, The Altamont School. In Tuscaloosa, she taught at Central High School, Tuscaloosa County High School and Tuscaloosa Academy.
During her years of teaching, she did post-graduate work as a Fulbright Fellow at the American Academy in Rome, the Vergilian Society in Greece and Italy and the Classical School of Athens. She continued her classical studies in Crete, Cyprus, Carthage, Ephesus, Troy, Herculaneum and Pompeii. She traveled extensively and often chaperoned students on trips abroad.
Elisabeth was predeceased by her husband, her parents and her two sisters. She is survived by her four children: Kirk McNair (Lynne), Tuscaloosa; Linda McNair Cohen (Benjamin), Tuscaloosa; Woodrow McNair (Becky), Atlanta; and Katherine McNair Stewart (David), Dallas; eight grandchildren and their families including her four great grandchildren. She is survived also by her cousin, nieces, nephews, friends and many students.
The family thanks Dr. Regina Harrell of the University of Alabama Department of Family Medicine, the Lantern of Morning Pointe and Heritage Health Care and Rehab for recognizing that the individual in their care was an extraordinary person.
In accordance with Elisabeth's wishes, there was a cremation, and her ashes will be joined with those of Woody in Union Springs. She would be pleased to know that gifts in her memory would support a local public library or animal shelter.
A memorial service will be on Sunday, October 27, 2013, at 2:00 P.M. at the church of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Tuscaloosa.
Published in Tuscaloosa News from Oct. 22 to Oct. 27, 2013