Bless her heart
February 17 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Bless her heart | Saturday, Feb. 17, 2001

Saturday, Feb. 17, 2001

Bless her heart

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor Willard Scott I am not - but when someone deserves a salute, they deserve a salute. And Aleatha Vera Kirstein deserves a salute.

Aleatha, who lives at Flesher's Fairview Health Care in Fairview, will celebrate her 100th birthday on March 5.

After her father was killed in a train wreck in 1906, young Aleatha lived in three different orphanages before being adopted by Mr. and Mrs. John Garren of Fairview.

After graduation from Fairview High School and Asheville Normal, she taught at three schools during the 1920's, each of which combined the first seven grades in one room with a single teacher.

In February 1921, Aleatha married Martin Luther Kirstein, a Baptist minister. She taught school to help support them while he attended Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute. Together, they served 11 different churches in Buncombe, Carolina and Transylvania associations until his death in October 1980.

The Kirsteins had two sons (John and James) and adopted a daughter, Elsie. They must have been happy in their ministry because both sons also pursued similar callings. Son John became a Presbyterian minister. James was ordained as a Southern Baptist minister and spent his career as a Navy chaplain. Aleatha worked at Biltmore Bleacheries to help pay for their education. Elsie, now deceased, worked as an administrator for an aircraft company.

Aleatha suffers from dementia now. She doesn't see or hear well, and cannot walk unassisted. Her short-term memory has all but deserted her, but she still loves visitors - especially those who come bearing jonquils or roses.

According to son James, Aleatha always considered her family to be her best accomplishment. "Her own gift was an indomitable but sweet spirit," he says, "She never quit anything that mattered."

Maybe that's why she's still pushing on, still talking about Jesus to all who will listen.

As they used to say on Hee-Haw, "Salute!"

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2/17/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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