Kate DeGaris

Kate DeGaris

Kate DeGaris, 84, passed away peacefully surrounded by family on January 4, 2021, following a long battle with cancer.

She was born in Guntersville, Alabama, in 1936, to Bonnie Violet and Montgomery Gilbreath Hodges. Kate married John Annesley “Johnnie” DeGaris in 1961, who preceded her in death in 1994.

She enjoyed family, time with her 5 grandchildren, socializing with friends, bridge, travel, antique furniture, and spending time in Guntersville.

Kate grew up on a farm with her parents and three brothers. She graduated from Marshall County High School where she was Miss Marshall County her senior year.

After graduating from Jacksonville State University, Kate moved to Anniston and later to Pell City where she taught English, science, and home economics at Pell City High School. Kate made Pell City her permanent home after Johnnie DeGaris asked her to marry him. She later helped him start and operate DeGaris Rexall Drugs while also rearing their three children. For years, citizens knew they would see the welcoming faces of Kate and Johnnie when they walked through the doors of DeGaris Drugs.

Kate was a fun and fascinating lady with many talents. She could quietly smile and beat you at bridge, or she might tell an interesting story about her latest travel adventure. Her knowledge of the family genealogy and the history of Pell City was amazing. Much of the history of Pell City is preserved because of Kate’s document saving and impeccable memory. She never met a stranger. She loved meeting people, learning about them, and most importantly, telling them all about her family that she adored.

Kate was proud of her children. The only people who made her smile bigger were her grandchildren. She held and loved on her grandbabies each chance she had. As they grew up, she attended every event from Grandparents Day, to dance recitals, to school plays, to lacrosse games (she even rode 9 hours to stay and watch a lacrosse camp once), to birthday parties, to award ceremonies, to balls, to horse shows, to graduations.

When Kate was diagnosed with cancer 12 years ago, she decided to fight. If you knew Kate, you knew a strong lady. She endured cancer treatments for years. This did not slow her down. The cancer did not keep her from her family or enjoying her life. She fought until the very end.

She was happy to enjoy her last Thanksgiving in Guntersville with her entire family. Her childhood home was her touchstone. It gave her peace and happiness. She was able to spend this Christmas in Birmingham with her family. Kate will be missed. She was unique and courageous, a true matriarch.

Kate is survived by her brother Earl Hodges (Elka), her son Annesley H. DeGaris (Ashley), her son Sumter C. DeGaris (Jennifer), her daughter Lydia DeGaris Pursell (Taylor); grandsons John Annesley DeGaris, Parker DeGaris; granddaughters Isabella DeGaris, Saylors Pursell, and Eva DeGaris.

The family requests donations may be made to the Pell City Christian Love Pantry in her memory.

A celebration of life was held Friday, January 8, in the Chapel of Kilgroe Funeral Home – Pell City. Interment followed at Valley Hill Cemetery.