Clarise Bridgemon Kirksey, 81, of Margaretville and Manhattan, died peacefully on June 10, 2014 at The Haven Hospice at Bellevue Hospital in New York City.
Clarise was born February 11, 1933, in Chattanooga, TN to Clay and Lucy (Thomas) Bridgeman. She studied at Tuskegee Institute and the University of Minnesota before settling in New York. For over 35 years Mrs. Kirksey worked as a laboratory technician at Bellevue Hospital and New York Hospital until retiring in 1991.
Clarise was a passionate traveler who toured Japan, Italy, France, England, and frequently drove cross-country with her husband Fred to visit friends and family. She was an enthusiastic visitor to the racetrack at Saratoga Springs, enjoying excursions there with friends. She had a connoisseur’s appreciation for the performing arts and was a dedicated volunteer at Belleayre Music Festival for many years.
Clarise was a culinary maverick who loved hosting parties and entertaining in her New York City apartment and summer home in the Catskills. Her incomparable peach ice cream, a perennial favorite at many a Fourth of July celebration on Huckleberry Hill, will be missed by those who had the privilege to enjoy this delightful treat. But more than that, all who knew her will remember her deep intelligence, her infectious sense of humor, her personable warmth and generosity, her elegant fashion sense, her deep spirituality, and her strong commitment to social justice.
She is survived by her loving husband of 42 years, Fred; her brothers, Clay Bridgeman, Jr. of Los Angeles, CA and James Bridgeman (Jarainia) of Union City, CA; her sister, Arbedella Dillon of Landover, MD; nieces and nephews Peter (Moszett), Clay (III), Anthony, Lamark, Andre, Michelle, Reneé, Sonja, Jennifer, Celeste, and Koko; and great-nieces Destiny and Cierra. Clarise was predeceased by her niece Varinia “Pearl” Paige (Charles Nixon), her eldest sister Doris Bridgeman, and brother Robert Bridgeman.
Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, June 18, at 4 p.m. at Johnstone Funeral Chapel in New York. Clarise was a devoted parishioner at Margaretville Methodist Church, where a memorial celebration will be held on Saturday, August 2.
Donations in the name of Clarise Kirksey name may be made to The Visiting Nurse Service of New York, 107 East 70th Street, New York, NY, 10021. Donation options can be found online at http://www.vnsny.org/community/support-vnsny/donate.