Emma Jane Bates Kiser-Nightingale (E.J.) took her final journey from this Earth at The Springs Memory Care Facility in Simpsonville, SC on Wednesday May 17, 2023 at 1:35 p.m. at the age of 90 years having recently celebrated her birthday. E.J. was born March 26, 1933 in Jacksonville, FL, and was educated in local schools including Fishweir Elementary, Lake Shore Junior High and Robert E. Lee High School (now Riverside High). Following graduation she attended Hardin-Simmons University, Abilene, TX for a short period of time then transferred to Carson Newman College in Jefferson City, TN, where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Education. She then obtained her Masters Degree from Florida State University. E.J. then became an Elementary School Teacher, 6th Grade level, in the Duval County Public School system where she dedicated herself to serving her students for more than 37 years. Upon her retirement from full-time teaching, she continued to serve as a substitute Teacher for an additional 16 years. At the close of that timeframe, E. J. became a reader for the school library for several years.
She was a trained observer in the Florida Assessment Management System and Qualified for the Florida Master Teacher’s Program. Throughout her long and dedicated career, E. J. took Continuing Education courses to keep abreast of new methodology and educational trends. She was a Teacher’s Teacher! There is literally no means to calculate the impact she had in the countless lives she touched as a Teacher/Educator. She even taught in China several summers during her career.
E.J. received the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior at an early age, and she became a very dedicated member of the First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, FL. She was extremely active and served in multiple facets of Church life. One of her most enjoyable activities was being a member of the Chancel Choir for more than 50 years, which she loved, much the same as her Mother Elizabeth Bates did. She visited hospitals, rehab facilities, nursing homes and people that were shut-ins on a weekly basis. Her dedication was remarkable, and her determination knew no bounds. She remained a member of First Baptist Jacksonville her entire life.
She also honored her personal giving commitments to support Missionaries in every part of the planet for years upon years. She also sponsored several “Compassion International” children in Africa. E. J. stayed the course with these children from their early years throughout their High School education and even went so far as to travel to visit them on several occasions! E. J. is even now supporting a High School student who will graduate in June 2024. These are just a very limited example of her generous giving heart.
E.J. loved to pray and would need only the slightest hint that someone would allow her to pray and she would pray. With friends, loved ones and perfect strangers, it made no difference to her.
She was involved in a paralyzing automobile accident at the age of 28 which resulted in her using crutches to walk for the remainder of her life. This did not preclude her from traveling to every Continent including Antarctica, all the while distributing countless thousands of Gospel tracts and sharing the good news of the life-changing Salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ. The first words out of her mouth to almost anyone she met or encountered were, “Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ?” She never gave-in and allowed her physically challenged body to restrain her from being active in every area of her Christian life.
In the spring of 2019 E. J. was relocated from Jacksonville to Simpsonville, SC where she became a resident of The Springs, a Senior Living Facility. She quickly made friends and began to charm staff, residents and visitors alike. Her bright, buoyant personality combined with her flashy fashion style and her wonderful collection of “Sunday-go-to-church Hats” won the hearts of everyone! Soon she was known throughout the facility as the “Hat Lady.” All too quickly, Alzheimer’s and Dementia robbed her of the intelligence and intellect she so valued. However, she was still able to pour out love, kindness and compliments to everyone she met. E. J. touched people’s lives and hearts by simply being herself. E.J. was predeceased by both of her husbands, Jack Kiser and Rev. Jack Nightingale; her mother, Alice Elizabeth Brenner Bates; father, Anthony Whitfield Bates; brother, Anthony Whitfield Bates Jr. (A.W./Tony); and her brother-in-law, Gary Hawkins.
She is survived by her younger sister, Opal Mae Bates Hawkins of Mauldin, SC; stepson, George (Nell) Nightingale of Jacksonville, FL; nieces, Cynthia (Jay) Whitacre of Fair Play, SC, and Deborah (Henry) Pickard of Simpsonville, SC; nephew, Glenn (Ellen) Hawkins of Pelzer, SC; cousins, Jimmy (Bev) Brenner, Oklahoma City, OK, Chris Morton of DeBary, FL and Sandy (Steve) Hale of Ellijay, GA; as well as 13 great nieces and nephews along with their spouses plus seven great-great nieces and nephews! Although E. J. never had any biological children, she has had innumerable children as students in her classrooms.
For those in SC, the Family will receive friends on Thursday May 25th from 4:30 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. at Thomas McAfee Funeral Homes, Southeast.
In Florida, the Funeral Service will be 2 PM Saturday June 3rd, 2023 in Mars Hill Church 4300 St Johns Avenue, Jacksonville, FL 32210. A visitation will be held in the church one hour prior to the Funeral Service. Interment will follow in Evergreen Cemetery 4535 Main St Jacksonville, FL 32206 (904) 353-3649.
E.J. wanted to thank each family member, friend, or acquaintance who helped her in any way throughout her entire life and desired forgiveness for any offense. Know that she loved and prayed for every individual with whom she had contact with and looked forward to the time of bowing together at Jesus’ feet. Her final desire was that this obituary draw someone’s heart, mind and will to the Lord Jesus Christ. “He that has the Son has Life and he that does not have the Son does not have Life.” Do you have Life? “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Will you receive Him today?