Jean Kirkland, age 75, died March 14, 2022. Jean was a loving and committed wife, mother, grandmother, counselor, and friend.
Jean was seen and experienced by so many people as very present, engaging, strong, compassionate, insightful, courageous, passionate, fun, and spiritually conscious. She loved the mountains and beaches, pets and all animals, being an avid reader, giving thoughtful gifts, and being a host. She put a lot of thought, effort, and training into her development as a very respected and skillful psychotherapist. Jean welcomed all types of clients and issues and was a first-choice referral for so many colleagues and community people. She knew how to respond to others and problems more from her heart than from her head and was more about connecting and relationships than outcomes and accomplishments. Others felt better about themselves in her presence and they would share stories of how she went out of her way to help them, and they would often say “Jean saved my life!” She was a strong advocate for acceptance, loving-kindness, diversity, inclusion, peace, and protecting our environment.
Jean grew up in Brewton, Alabama, graduated from Wesleyan College (GA), and earned a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from University of West Florida. After college she worked as a high school English teacher. After graduate school she moved to North Carolina and started working for the Smokey Mountain Mental Health Center as a school counselor. She was then a counselor at Western Carolina University’s Counseling and Psychological Services Center before she went into full-time private practice as a licensed counselor and psychologist in Sylva for thirty years.
Jean loved listening to, supporting, and taking care of her family. She was born in Brewton, Alabama to the late Reo Kirkland and Martha Terry Kirkland, and preceded in death by her brother Reo Kirkland Jr. She is survived by her husband of 40 years, John Ritchie, daughters Jennifer Baer and Kaitlin Ritchie, sons Robb (Patty) Baer, Kyle (Cara) Barrineau, and Michael (Lydia) Ritchie; grandchildren Hayley Baer (Matt) Hardwick, Peyton Baer, and Taylor and Jackson Barrineau, and Anders Ritchie; great grandson Charles Hardwick, and her brother Karl (Laurie) Kirkland.
Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at appalachianfuneralservices.com. A Celebration of Life service will be held at 2 PM on Sunday April 10, 2022, in the Community Room of the Jackson County Library in Sylva. Please refer to the above website for any possible updates before April 10.
Appalachian Funeral Services has been entrusted with Jean’s funeral arrangements.