Athelea May Reifsnyder, of Langley, peacefully passed from this life to the next on Monday, Dec. 5 while in her 95th year.
Athelea was born in Philadelphia on Sunday, June 12, 1921, but spent her early years growing up in Palmyra, N.J. with parents David Augustus and Esther Irene Kitchen, and a brother, William David Kitchen.
She attended Palmyra High School and upon graduation in 1940 entered into three years of nurse’s training at the Cooper Hospital School of Nursing in Camden, N.J. She successfully graduated in 1943 as a registered nurse and spent the next two years at Cooper Hospital assisting as a surgery nurse in the ear, nose and throat department.
She married her sweetheart, James Stanley Reifsnyder of Collingswood, N.J., on Dec. 23, 1943, and had three children: Judith Nancy, James Stanley and Cynthia Marie. Their marriage together lasted 57 years, and ended with the passing of her husband in January, 2000.
For many years after her marriage, Athelea remained in southern New Jersey raising and caring for her family. She became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints during the late 1950s, and for several years worked as a volunteer police officer, directing traffic and controlling a children’s crossing at a busy school intersection.
In 1972, with her husband seeking retirement and the children now on their own, the sudden passing of her mother necessitated the sale of their home. She and Jim moved from New Jersey to St. Petersburg, Fla. in order to move in with, and care for, Athelea’s ailing father.
During this time, Athelea was employed for the next 14 years as a home health care visiting nurse, receiving her daily patient assignments through Upjohn Health Care Services, and as a medical records courier for Tampa Bay Orthopedics.
In 2004, Athelea moved to Whidbey Island to be closer to her daughter, Cynthia. She settled in Langley, joined the local LDS Church and remained a faithful member until her passing.
She loved cats and always kept one in her home for companionship. She took on the nickname “Kit” — derived from her maiden name, Kitchen — and as she had done for so many years prior, continued in her pursuit to serve others, expecting nothing in return but the joy of knowing that she had made a difference.
Athelea loved people, laughter and life in general. She followed a Spirit-driven life of rendering herself available to her Lord, her church and to her fellow human family. She lived a simple life of dependence upon God, and trusted Him for all of this life’s necessary provisions.
Athelea May “Kit” Reifsnyder is survived by her three children: Judy Vearling of Northfield Mass.; James Reifsnyder of Lynnville, Ind.; and Cynthia Applegate of Greenbank. She was blessed with six grandchildren: Jason, Randy, Claudia, Courtney, Aaron and Stephen; and five great-grandchildren: Noah, Alexander, Taylor, Samuel and Elijah.
A memorial celebration of life was held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Saturday, Dec. 17 in Langley.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be given to: Enso House, 6339 Wahl Road, Freeland, WA 98249 and/or Hospice of Whidbey General Hospital, 101 N. Main St, Coupeville, WA 98239.