Emma Kay Gresham
Dr. Emma Kay Bender Gresham, was born in Jacksonville on May 5, 1948, and died on Oct. 30, 2013, at Duke Hospital in Durham, from complications following surgery.

She is survived by her husband of 43 years, John Gresham who remained constantly at her side for the duration of her illness. She is also survived by her brother, Andy and his family.

She was predeceased by her parents, Kathryn and Ralph "Dick" Bender of Jacksonville.

Kay attended Meredith College before transferring to UNC Chapel Hill where she received her BA in education in 1970. She earned her MA from East Carolina University and Ed.D from Duke University. Her professional career in the Onslow County School System included a variety of roles: teacher, administrator of Federal programs, Executive Director of Head Start, and most recently as Director for Early Childhood Initiatives and Federal Services and Thompson Early Childhood Center. She also had been an instructor in the Graduate School at East Carolina University and Coastal Carolina Community College.

She served as Executive Director of Sponsors for Academic Talent, Inc., and was past chairman of the board of Governors for the Governor's School of N.C.; she began the Interact Club at Jacksonville High School, served on the Steering Committee to establish the Onslow County Women's Center, and established a television studio in the Onslow County Schools. She served on numerous boards and was a member of the Women's Forum of N.C.

An active Rotarian, she was past president of the Jacksonville Rotary Club and was prepared to assume the position of District Governor of the southeast region of Rotarians. She was past president of the Jacksonville Junior Women's Club and the Upsilon Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International. Elected as Onslow County Woman of the Year in 1998, she also received the award as one of Onslow County's Top Ten Women of the Decade.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3 at Trinity United Methodist Church in Jacksonville. Visitation will follow the service.

Contributions in lieu of flowers may be made to SAT Sponsors for Academic Talent, Inc., P.O. Box 233, Jacksonville, NC 28541.



Published by Jacksonville Daily News from Oct. 31 to Nov. 3, 2013.
To plant trees in memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.
MEMORIAL EVENTS
To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
MAKE A DONATION
MEMORIES & CONDOLENCES
Add a Message


Not sure what to say?



50 Entries
John, I just found out about Kay. Our hearts go out to you. You lost your best friend. Kay was an amazing woman & she will be greatly missed but never forgotten. Bob said he's coming to visit you soon. You are in our thoughts & prayers. We love you, Marsha & Bob Dees
November 13, 2013
John and Andy,
I was shocked and saddened to learn of our loss. Kay was an inspiration to many, and a good friend to more. My heart goes out to your families and please know you are in my prayers. I just can't believe this sudden news.
Bobby Taylor
November 5, 2013
John, I'm still in shock. I was so blessed to have known Kay, to have worked for her, and to have been her friend. She was a blessing to the community and to the thousands of children's lives she touched directly and indirectly. I find myself saying "Kayisms" from time to time in my conversations with people and it always brings a smile and happy memory. I thought of her last year when staying at the Carolina Inn, but could not get in touch with her to let her know I was thinking of her and how she would have laughed knowing a Terp was in the heart of Tar Heel territory - and enjoying it. She was so kind, caring, and considerate. I am so thankful for having known Kay.
Steve Hawley
November 3, 2013
We all at Onslow County Schools have suffered a great loss..Kay we will miss you greatly..you were an inspiration to me.I am glad to have called you my friend.
Carolyn Jones
November 3, 2013
John-I'm Anne Borden's daughter, Lisa. I don't think you and I ever met but I've heard many wonderful stories about you and Kay and the beautiful marriage you shared. I knew Dick and Kathryn very well. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Lisa Rankin
November 3, 2013
Dear John,
Steve and I are truly saddened to hear of Kay's death. God truly blessed us with having the opportunity to know her. She gave love and understanding to all who met her. Thousands of students benefitted from the programs she developed in Onslow County. No matter how busy she was, she always had time for family, friends and the students. She made this a better world by sharing her wisdom and love. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Love,
Laurie and Steve Anderson
November 3, 2013
What an honor to have known Kay! She was a true lady in every sense and a wonderful ambassador for education. I have always admired her tenacious desire to help all students. She will be missed by all of us in federal programs. Please know prayers are with you at this difficult time.
Lyle Shaw
November 2, 2013
My family and I were distressed and saddened to hear of your loss. Kay was a lovely lady and she will be missed by many. When we first moved to Jacksonville in 1957 my older sister, Marsha met Kay at school. Then we moved and we were neighbors. Even though I was the "little sister" she was always sweet and kind to me. She was that way with everyone she met. I dearly loved her parents and feel so fortunate to have called Kay and you as friends. My husband, Coleman Maready and Pam's husband, Rick Yarborough send their sympathy for you loss. Pam and I will keep you in our thoughts and prayers in the days ahead. Take care my friend.
Donna & Pam Ruse
November 2, 2013
I got to work with Mrs. Gresham when my daughter was in the childhood development program in the late 90's. She knew she was doing and how to get things done. Very nice lady to be around. I know she will be missed here in onslow county . My thoughts and prayers are with the family.
Cindy Deaver
November 2, 2013
Johnny-

Very sorry to hear about Kay. It has been 50 years since we have seen each other since Topsail Beach summers in the 60'S.You will be in my prayers. Bo Warren
November 2, 2013
John - very sad to learn about Kay. She was definitely your better half; and how beloved she was is illustrated by the entries here by those whose lives she touched. God bless you - hope to see you under much better circumstances. Bill & Lynn Titchener
November 2, 2013
John,
I am so sorry to hear this news! Kay was always one of the brightest lights during our time at the beach! Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.
Mary & Charlie Carlton
November 2, 2013
Dear John,
We were shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden passing of your beautiful wife and best friend.
Sending you prayers for strength
during this difficult time. May it give you comfort in knowing Miss Kay made such a positive impact on all
those she touched and we are all better people for being given that opportunity!
Bobbie McGowan
November 2, 2013
John,
We are so grateful to have known Kay. Our hearts are heavy and our prayers are with you.
The Dunkley, McGrail and Reid-Wanbaugh Families
November 1, 2013
Kay and I became friends years ago while I was teaching at Blue Creek Elementary. I will never forget her kindness. My thoughts and prayers will be with the family.
Bet Brewster
Betsy Brewster
November 1, 2013
Kay was a beacon of life to all who knew her.
Bill Morrow
November 1, 2013
An extraordinary woman who will be missed by all.
Bob and Jill Breton
November 1, 2013
John, Very sorry to hear about Kay. Passed on the information to the ol' college crew: Kevin, Danny, Hank, Joe and Tom. You are in our thoughts.
Bill Day
November 1, 2013
Kay always lights up a room when she walks in. I am sure she is lighting many a heavenly light now. proud to have known her. John, and family, my prayers and thoughts are with you.
Fellow Rotarians will miss her.
Renae Dail
November 1, 2013
I am sorry to read of Kay's death. She was special and energetic and will be missed by everyone who knew her. Among her top priorities was always the education of all children and she constantly work for them.
Evelyn Bradshaw
Evelyn Bradshaw
November 1, 2013
Kay was pure sunshine; the face and heart of an angel.
susan and john critchfield
November 1, 2013
She was the conductor of our first grade rhythm band and has inspired me ever since.
Ellen Klarpp Herbert
November 1, 2013
Dr. Gresham was such a wonderful lady. She was my son's sponsor in the Interact Club at Jacksonville High School, and she was great with the teens in her charge. Even though my son graduated in 1995, she remembered me and would always ask how he was doing. She was very proud of the accomplishments of every student she had known. We have lost a true original.
November 1, 2013
May tender thoughts of your love for Kay live on forever within your heart and blossom into the most beautiful of memories! You are in our prayers. May God bless you and Kay's family in this time of sorrow.
Bob and Ginny Shipley
October 31, 2013
Diane Kulbis
October 31, 2013
Dr. Kay was a fine woman who gave 110%of her time and wisdom for the children of Onslow County. She expected a lot from those who worked with her because she felt the children should have the best. I know she will be missed by many. I have many fond memories of working with Dr. Gresham
Rhonda Cole
October 31, 2013

Such a beautiful person, she will be truly missed.
J.R.and Peggy Maynard
Greenville, NC
October 31, 2013
I am so shocked and saddened to hear of the death of this delightful and talented woman! Kay was genuine,caring and gratious lady who always did her best to honor the people that she worked with! Having Kay as a friend and colleague will always be one of my life's blessings! Mary Lee Moore, Chatham County Schools
Mary Lee Moore
October 31, 2013
John,
We have climbed up mountains, through bogs, and across the tidal flats of Ireland and Sicily with Kay and you. She was a trooper and always set for the challenge. We grieve her loss and will long remember the good times.
Brenda and Rick Dixon
October 31, 2013
We are so saddened to hear of the loss of our former colleague, Kay Gresham. She was always such an asset to the Onslow County School System. She was a very fine lady. Our prayers are with you. Vicki and Ric Fritz
October 31, 2013
Kay was my colleague, mentor, book club buddy, hiking buddy and most of all my wonderful friend! She will live in my heart forever!
Virginia Teachey
October 31, 2013
Sherrie Bender
October 31, 2013
Dear John and family, we are extremely saddened by this sudden loss of such a great person as Kay. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
Bill & Kathe Fine
October 31, 2013
Kay was beautiful person who washed up on our shore and left far too soon. Jim & I carry with us a lasting imprint of her presence. John & family we grieve with you.
Kathy & Jim Sabella
October 31, 2013
John, my thoughts & prayers go out to you and your family. No words can describe the loss of such a beautiful lady. My heavy heart goes out to you at this time of such a precious loss.
Sandy Hurst
October 31, 2013
Dear John,
We are so very sorry to hear of your loss.

You & Kay have been such good friends for many years. We wish we could be there to share a hug with you.

You know our hearts are there with you with special love in this difficult time.

With wonderful happy memories and love always,
Al and Donna Munch
Al & Donna Munch
October 31, 2013
I taught with Dr. Kay at Blue Creek Elementary School. Onslow County was truly blessed by her leadership and compassion for others. May God bless you and your family during this time of sorrow.
Sondra Autry
October 31, 2013
John my hearts and prayers are with you. Having just met Kay at Rotary Leadership Institute in Raleigh we formed a bond as Rotarians and UNC Grads. She will be missed in my Rotary Life.

Roger L. Harrell, Past District Governor, Maryland/Delaware
Roger Harrell
October 31, 2013
Dr. Gresham made a large impact on Onslow County schools and our community. She will be sorely missed. She was such a lovely person and educator. Our prayers are with her loved ones.
Mary and Ray Stanley
Mary Stanley
October 31, 2013
John,
Our hearts and thoughts go out to you and Kay's family.
Sheri and Curt Prout
October 31, 2013
There are so many words to use to describe Dr. Gresham, some of which are gracious, stately, compassionate, dedicated educator, fun, southern lady, encourager, and precious friend. She will indeed be missed. I feel honored and blessed to have worked with her in the Onslow County Schools and in the community. My heart goes out to John and her family at this time of loss.
Eva Russell
October 31, 2013
We will miss your lovely lady too. Wish we were closer in miles, but our hearts are close.
Nancy and Larry Foy
October 31, 2013
I can't begin to express how saddened we are to here of her passing. She was a super lady and along with John the picture of happiness. She will truly be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with you John during this very sad time. God Bless You.
Barbara Dresser
October 31, 2013
Dr. Kay, you will be missed. You were such an asset to our school system and our community.
Gretchen Robinson
October 31, 2013
Our hearts and prayers go out to John and his family. May God bless them and ease their pain.
Stan Jackson
October 31, 2013
Kay was the nicest and most gracious lady. She will be missed. John you are in our thoughts and prayers along with other family members.
Tracey Brown
October 31, 2013
A wonderful lady that will be missed. Prayers for the family.
October 31, 2013
Kay was one of our most dedicated educators throughout her career! This is such a loss for Onslow! My thoughts and prayers go out to her family!
Ruth Turner
October 31, 2013
May the light of Kay Gresham continue to shine in heaven with the other shining souls. A light in the darkness will be missed.
Cheryl Moseley, Sneads Ferry, NC
October 31, 2013
A wonderful lady has left our midst but she will live on in the hearts of those who were blessed to call her friend.
Joan McGinnis
October 30, 2013
Showing 1 - 50 of 50 results