Kristie Logan Moriarty Irwin of Ida, Ark., a high school science teacher who wore black on the first day of school to mourn the passing of summer, died Thursday, February 27, 2020, at Little Rock. She was 53.She will be remembered as someone with a big heart, whose love overflowed on family, friends, and students
Born Kristie Renee Logan on July 30, 1966, at Heber Springs, daughter of Darrell and Dianne Tiner Logan of Ida and the late Mary Dynell Sartain Logan, Mrs. Irwin was raised on a farm in Ida. Her dad was a farmer and an owner of Logan Oil Co., Inc. who provided all that the family needed; her mother, a loving mother who provided for the family’s needs while not having to work, other than on the farm. The family, including her brother Brent, lived with extended family in the proximity. She was happy to return to her father’s land as an adult. Several years ago, she happily returned to live in the house in which was raised, which gave a special peace in her final months.
During her formative years, she enjoyed participating in pageants and cheering at Concord Pirate basketball games, but she kept a distaste for culling dead chickens and eating crust on sandwiches. On most weekends during high school years, when not at ballgames, she cruised backroads and hung out at Jerry’s Place or Drasco Cafe. And she created many indelible memories in the many youth activities at Pleasant Ridge General Baptist Church, in which she was raised, the church that instilled in her the foundation principles of Christianity.
She earned an associate’s degree from Arkansas State University in Beebe, where she met several dear friends. Although she was dreadfully homesick those 46 miles from Ida, she honored a promise to her parents to stick it out for one semester, then completed a bachelor’s degree -- a commitment that changed her life and the lives of thousands of students because of her career choice as a secondary science teacher. Those two years at ASU-Beebe had a great impact on her love of singing and understanding of science, a love that was kindled by Hugh Battershell, an emeritus assistant professor of chemistry at ASU-Beebe. She also represented the college in the Miss Arkansas pageant in 1986. With ASU-Beebe’s Campus Singers, she furthered her singing talent, which she used later in life at Pleasant Ridge, where her children became members
In pursuit of a bachelor of science in education degree at the University of Central Arkansas at Conway, she married David Moriarty, and they had a child, Kayla Beth. She and Mr. Moriarty, who is a healthcare practitioner, have remained close, and she relied on him and his wife, Cindy, a medical doctor, as she made healthcare choices in these final months.
In the midst of her first teaching job at Heber Springs High School, she married Matt Irwin, who had a son Tyler, creating a ready-made household of four. Two years after that, they had a third child, Braden.
As Kristie Moriarty, she taught science at Heber Springs High School in the 1990-91 school year. After remarrying and staying home to take care of a new child, Mrs. Irwin resumed teaching science at Concord High School. She had one other short stint at White County Central before joining Rose Bud High School in August 2002; she remained at Rose Bud until illness prompted an early retirement in December.
She enjoyed, but did not love, the first day of school each year. She dressed in black because summer ended, summertime being a season she relished because of sunning by the pool or reading on the beach, and because she had the liberty to sleep late. She told students that they would know if she were ready to retire when she donned white on the first day. Sadly, she became ill 9 days into the school year, not knowing it would be her last.
Summers became more joyful with the birth of a first grandchild, Graysin Elizabeth Irwin. She relished the role of grandmother, overtly spoiling with toys, clothes, and sweet treats at all hours of the day. She learned from her own mother and mothers-in-law the art of showering love and security on grandchildren; with the addition of Savannah Kate Irwin, her summers brightened even more, reaching the high point with Elliot Reese Laster, for whom she was a babysitter the past summer, an especially treasured time of bonding.
Mrs. Irwin’s spiritual understanding helped her to appreciate God’s great tapestry of life, the one we view from underneath but which He perfects on the finished side. Struggles in life, with the ups and downs of living and especially the death of her mother, led her to grow with grace and become someone who demonstrated “how” to love, essentially making her a teacher of love in all areas of life. In her husband, she began that teaching when they first dated in 1982, she practiced it as an art form with friends, and she carried it into the classroom, becoming very close for short semesters and in lifelong friendships. She touched many a student during their time of need, and she had a softness for students whose life circumstances made school itself dreaded. Although a life that is rife with love will make prominent the threads of her tapestry, Mrs. Irwin’s will be especially beautiful because of her relationships with students. God planned that for her -- and He planned that for them.
Among the loving family members who taught her how to love were two of the most special, Karen Pierce and Sharon Stowe -- “Kaky” and “Sissy.” Their loving care at home and in the hospital, every day and at any time of the night, helped Mrs. Irwin rest and remain as healthy as possible so that she and her husband, children, friends, and family could share loving and tender moments with her. The family is immeasurably indebted to them but unconcerned in the knowledge that God will provide for them richly.
They continued their care -- in addition to their comforting presence -- during hospital stays at Baptist Health Medical Center at Conway and Little Rock. They spent weeks on the oncology wing on Floor 10 providing untold comfort merely in their presence with Mrs. Irwin. Her final weeks of life also received skilled and compassionate care from the RN’s, patient care techs, information associates, and doctors. In what is often a very undignified time of life when one is physically compromised, they provided love and expertise to help Mrs. Irwin know that she was loved by newfound friends.
Mrs. Irwin was preceded in death by her mother, Dynell Logan, in 2011.
Survivors include her husband, Matt Irwin of Ida; three children, Tyler Irwin of Ida; Kayla Laster and her husband, Travis, of Heber Springs, Ark.; Braden Irwin and wife, Stephanie, of Conway, Ark.; three grandchildren, Graysin Irwin, Savannah Irwin, and Elliot Laster; a brother, Brent Logan of Ida; and her daddy and stepmom, Darrell and Dianne Logan of Ida.
Visitation will be from 4-6 p.m. Saturday at Pleasant Ridge General Baptist Church, Highway 25 North, Ida. The funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at Chastain Chapel General Baptist Church, Old Highway 25, Tumbling Shoals, Ark., with Bro. Jeff Thomas officiating. A graveside service will follow at Chastain Chapel Cemetery. Pallbearers are Jerry Pierce of Ida, Scott Moore of Quitman, Chris Kerby of Ida, Mark Milidonis of Quitman, Chase Thomas of Drasco, Taylor Cooper of Heber Springs, and Tyler Williams of Redondo Beach, Calif.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests a scholarship donation benefiting Rose Bud students. Please contact the Rose Bud School District’s superintendent’s office at (501) 556-5815.
Arrangements are by Heber Springs Funeral Home.
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