Gerald Walter Kirksey (Jerry) of Boone, NC went home to be with the Lord on January 25, 2023, at the age of 82. He had been in declining health
for several years. Jerry was preceded in death by his wife of 47 years, Carolyn, who passed away in 2015.
Jerry served as editor-in-chief of Singing News magazine from its founding in 1969 to his retirement in 2010.
Born in Panama City, Florida, on June 13, 1940, Jerry and his family returned to his parents’ hometown of Pensacola following World War II.
After graduating with the Pensacola High School Class of 1958, Jerry began working in radio, including time at WNVY and WCOA in Pensacola as
well as WTHR in Panama City. In 1960, Jerry kicked off his Southern Gospel career as the promotional director and office manager for The
Florida Boys quartet. This experience led to work with Southern Gospel music icon J.G. Whitfield, assisting with the promotion of concerts
Jerry joined the U.S. Army in 1963. Upon completing his active duty service, he returned to work for J.G. Whitfield as manager of Jubilee
Enterprises, a concert and product promotion company. He continued serving in the U.S. Army Reserves throughout the 1960s.
Jerry married Carolyn Sue Rhodes of Graceville, FL on October 1, 1967. Son Kenneth Bryan Kirksey was born in 1969 and son Kenton Brett Kirksey
was born in 1971.
In 1969, Mr. Whitfield tasked Jerry with creating and running the Singing News, which began as a tabloid newspaper. The Singing News went
on to become the largest and oldest Southern Gospel music publication. Jerry served as editor-in-chief of Singing News Magazine from its
founding in May 1969 until his retirement in 2010, encompassing a total of 492 issues. Both of Jerry’s sons would eventually work with him at
Singing News. Likewise, Carolyn was a fixture at many Southern Gospel concerts as she and Jerry represented Singing News across the nation.
Jerry pursued other business and civic ventures in addition to his work in the Southern Gospel industry. In 1984, he co-founded BLAB-TV in
Pensacola and served as its first general manager. He went on to establish Eastern Gate Memorial Gardens, also in Pensacola. Always
involved in public service, Jerry ran for office and served as chairman of the Santa Rosa Island Authority (Pensacola Beach) until 1987. As a
member of First Baptist Church in Pensacola, Jerry chaired numerous committees and taught Sunday School as well.
In July 1987, Maurice Templeton, a businessman from Boone, NC, acquired the Singing News magazine. Jerry and his family relocated to Boone where Jerry, now part-owner, continued to manage the publication. He also continued his work in public service as chairman of Boone’s Board of
Adjustments. Jerry and his family joined Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in Boone, and he was again active on various committees.
During his time at Singing News, Jerry created Southern Gospel music’s first National Radio Airplay Chart (1970) and the Singing News Fan
Jerry also served on the board of directors of the original Gospel Music Association and the board of the original Southern Gospel Music
Association of Georgia. He was involved in organizing the Southern Gospel Music Guild and the modern-day Southern Gospel Music Association.
He was actively involved in the building and development of the original SGMA Hall of Fame and Museum at Dollywood.
Jerry won numerous awards for his work in the Southern Gospel industry including the Southern Gospel Music Guild Lifetime Achievement Award
(2006), Gospel Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award (2009), Singing News Norcross-Templeton Award (2009), and he was inducted into
the Southern Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame (2011).
Jerry is survived by son Kenneth Kirksey and his wife Deborah Kirksey of Boone, NC; son Brett Kirksey of Boone, NC; sister Joice Owen and her
husband Ken Owen of Pensacola, FL; and many beloved nieces, nephews, and in-laws.
A Celebration of Life service will be held on Wednesday, February 15, 2023, at 2:00 pm. Friends will be received by the family at the church
one hour prior to the service. The service will be held at: Galilee United Methodist Church, 4343 Galilee Rd., Graceville, FL 32440.
In lieu of flowers please send donations to Lighthouse Children’s Home.
They accept donations by mail or through their website.
Lighthouse Children’s Home , 7771 Mahan Dr. Tallahassee, FL 32309. Web: http://lighthousechildrenshome.com/
Online condolences may be sent to the Kirksey family at www.hamptonfuneralnc.com
Hampton Funeral and Cremation Service is in charge of the arrangements.