Elaine Marcella Kinghorn was the youngest daughter born to Sarah Nicholas Kinghorn and Charles Kinghorn on their ranch in Saint Onge, South Dakota. Premature, small and fragile as a newborn she was carried on a pillow to protect her fragile skin. Her parents were not certain she would survive but in fact she thrived for 99 years and 6 months. She quietly passed away in her sleep late in the evening of June 6, 2017 at Holly Heights Care Center under the care of Denver Hospice.
She grew up during the middle of the Great Depression on a ranch in the Black Hills of South Dakota learning to be self-sufficient, waste nothing and mastering practical skills such as canning vegetables for the long winter. She remarked how important it was to bring the temperature of the preserves high enough to kill all bacteria and to carefully sterilize the jars and lids. Pointing out what happens if you do not. It seems the mother of a family that lived down road was not careful in these details and one winter morning the entire family died of botulism. During her middle school years she attended St. Martin’s Academy in Sturgis, SD. She recalled how those were some of the happiest years of her life with the comradery of other girls her age and Nuns who were excellent role models. At that time she was convinced that she too would someday enter the convent. The Depression interfered with those plans. Her parents could no longer afford the boarding school and someone had to take care of her aged grandmother in Spearfish, SD. She attended high school in Spearfish, cooked dinner for her grandmother each day and practiced the piano. After graduating from Spearfish High School she moved to Denver, CO where she entered nurses training at Mercy School of Nursing and was trained as a Registered Nurse. Later at 67 years of age she obtained her BSN from Metro State College and continued nursing at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital until she was 72. Her older sister Eunice (Ed) Graham was also an RN. Ed and Eunice had two children, Rita and Charlie (Rita). Rita became a nurse and then entered the Benedictine Convent changing her name to Sister Joanne when she took her vows.
Elaine met James J. Hill during nurses training and they were married January 1, 1942 and continued life together for the next 60 years until his death. They had 4 children. James R. Hill who preceded her in death. Virginia (Steve) Winn Kathleen L. Hill, Dr. John (Gail) Hill and her daughter-in-law Sharon (Robert) Hill-Huntsicker. 9 Grandchildren: Debbie Winn, Bryan, Monty, Joanna Hill and Jack Sheldon all of Denver. Laura Wuerstl (Mike) of Calgary, Canada, Stephen Winn of Omaha, NB, Terry (Christy) Jones of Houston, TX, Bethany Hill of Durham, NC; and 10 great-grandchildren.
A visitation and Rosary service will be held at Most Precious Blood Catholic Church, 2250 South Harrison Street in Denver on Monday, June 12, 2017 at 9:00 AM. Following the Rosary, a Mass of Christian burial will be held at the same location at 10:00 AM. Reception will follow in the church foyer. Procession and then Interment will follow at Crown Hill Cemetery. All are welcome to attend the services.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to: Spirit of Mercy Nursing scholarship fund, c/o Donna Kusuda, 2001 Lincoln St. #2422, Denver 80202.
How does one summarize the life of a person who lived 99 years, 6 months, and 10 days? This was a remarkable woman who was fiercely loyal to, and deeply loved, by her family and friends. Two descriptions come to mind when I remember my Mom. She was a Mary, a good and faithful servant of the Lord. And she was a Martha, one tough cookie who worked hard all her life serving others. Mom was born on November 27, 1917 on a ranch in St. Onge, S. D. The stories say that no one even knew my grandmother was pregnant and that they had to carry my mother on a pillow for the first few months of her life. She was apparently a premie. And she must have been a real fighter to have survived a premature birth in the dead of winter out in the middle of nowhere. Mom attended schools in St. Onge, at St. Martin’s Academy in Sturgis, and Spearfish High School. Mom was a math Brainiac! I loved the story she told of being the only girl in the trigonometry and calculus classes. When she wanted to quit higher math, because she was the only girl, the teacher asked the boys, “Are you going to let Kinghorn quit?” The boys all yelled “No”, so she stuck it out. After graduating in 1935 she moved to Denver to live with her Aunt and Uncle. She tried working as a housekeeper and babysitter and hated it. So she signed up to learn to type and make maps. Becoming a proficient typist she went to work typing at Montgomery Wards. After a year of that she thought this was definitely not what she wanted to spend the rest of her life doing. So she walked into Mercy Hospital and signed up for school to become a nurse. It was during nursing school that she met my Dad on a blind date. The exact words she told me were, “Well he didn’t look too bad so I went out with him.” After her graduation from Nursing School my parents married at midnight on New Year’s Eve in 1942. That union produced 4 children, 9 grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren. After 60 years of marriage my Dad passed 15 years ago May 17th. only girl, the teacher asked the boys, “Are you going to let Kinghorn quit?” The boys all yelled “No”, so she stuck it out. After graduating in 1935 she moved to Denver to live with her Aunt and Uncle. She tried working as a housekeeper and babysitter and hated it. So she signed up to learn to type and make maps. Becoming a proficient typist she went to work typing at Montgomery Wards. After a year of that she thought this was definitely not what she wanted to spend the rest of her life doing. So she walked into Mercy Hospital and signed up for school to become a nurse. It was during nursing school that she met my Dad on a blind date. The exact words she told me were, “Well he didn’t look too bad so I went out with him.” After her graduation from Nursing School my parents married at midnight on New Year’s Eve in 1942. That union produced 4 children, 9 grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren. After 60 years of marriage my Dad passed 15 years ago May 17th. There wasn’t anything Mom wouldn’t do for her children, except spoil us with things. She was generous in giving us education. Dance, music, bowling, swimming, physical therapy, speech therapy, Boy and Girl Scouts; whatever we needed. She was determined to raise educated, able and resilient children. She and my Dad went without for themselves, and she made most all our clothes, so we could have educations. But spoiled we were not. I use to try to stay home from school when I was sick. But my Mom would say, “You’re not that sick…GO TO SCHOOL! And because she was a nurse we trusted that she was right, so we must not be that sick and we went to school. I am so grateful to my Mom for the values she taught us. Work hard, get an education, love God and family, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. My Momma didn’t raise no whimpy babies. She led by example. In her late 50’s she herself went back to college earning her Bachelors of Science Degree in Nursing at the age of 62. She worked as an RN until age 72 at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. She always said she would have worked longer if her knees hadn’t given out. She was the go to person for every out of town relative that traveled to Denver for medical care. She cared for her own parents till they died at ages 93 and 97. Our home was most always Grand Central Station. She babysat grandchildren, made tons of costumes for my dancers at the studio, and she became a cookie factory every Christmas making cookies for my dance studios open house week. For years she volunteered to play piano in the nursing homes on Sundays for church services. Mom served on boards for Business and Professional Women and Pilot Club of Denver. She loved genealogy and, in her spare time, wrote my grandmother’s biography, “Sarah and the Cowboy”. And this woman could pray like no other. I remember many a trip to and from the Black Hills in a snow storm at Thanksgiving when Mom would sit in the back seat of the car reciting rosaries for 7 straight hours, while my father drove like a crazy person. Needless to say I could recite a rosary by heart before I was 10. When Mom died she was holding her rosary. Her constant companion for most all her life. Her faith in God was unwavering. Mom hated being old. She hated being, what she referred to herself as being, “useless”. She wanted to get up and do things, to see again, to read a book, to wash the dishes. She was a Martha and a Mary to the end. Mom came into this world and left this world a fighter. As much as I will miss her I am joyous that she is finally with Jesus. Where she can see again and her shoulders don’t hurt. Where she can get up and get busy doing things. Heaven has a new angel. And if I know my mother, she is up there in heaven right now telling all the other angels to get busy and get something done. Momma I hope you get all the answers, to all your “why” questions, in heaven!