Kathy Barnes Hillock
March 29, 1951 – October 6, 2019
KATHY’S STORY Writing an obituary for a dear, beautiful friend is an insurmountable process. Just the words, “Kathy Hillock’s obituary” are in themselves an oxymoron, because Kathy Barnes Hillock personified life. When Kathy shared she had lung cancer, I will never forget the exact moment, the precise time of day, and how we sat in disbelief. We listened as she spoke, and I interrupted too many times. Much of it is a painful blur, except for when Kathy cried and humbly spoke, “So many people had and are suffering with cancer and diseases, that I can’t possibly say, ‘Why me? The question is Why not me?” There lies the essence and empathy of Kathy Hillock. Kathy was born on March 29, 1951, and raised on a farm in Hebbardsville, Kentucky and she passed away on October 6, 2019 at Greenville Memorial Hospital, Greenville South Carolina. If Kathy had lived to 100 years of age, it still would have been too soon. All our lives were and will continue to be better for having known her. Kathy was preceded in death by her father, William Crafton Barnes; her mother, Dorothy Annette Barnes; and the late Issa Hillock, beloved Maltese of 16 years. Kathy is survived by her loving husband, Steve Hillock; children, Jason Barclay; Jennifer Ferguson and her husband, Scott; and Ashley Hillock; grandchildren, Tyler and Paige Ferguson; sister, Sue Gayle Parrish; brothers, Donald W. Barnes; Larry G. Barnes and his wife Jean; Gary N. Barnes and his wife Pat; brother-in-law, Gary Hillock and wife Stacy; sister-in-law, Diane Williams; 7 nieces, 8 nephews, 4 great nephews, 7 great nieces, 5 great great nephews, 2 great great nieces, and lastly, Lola, her Maltese she so dearly loved. Kathy had a full life that she shared with her husband whom she so dearly loved. Kathy and Steve met at the Alcoa Plant in Newburgh, IN, where they had both worked. About four months ago during a marathon conversation, she shared how much she loved Steve, saying that he was her “rock” in life and she couldn’t live without him. She told me how wonderful he was to her and laughingly added, “I hardly ever have to pump my own gas.” Kathy and Steve would have celebrated their 24th wedding anniversary in December. They shared their lives together with their beautiful Maltese, Lola in a fashionable condo high above the City of Greenville, SC. It was a full and abundant life, filled with love, family, friends, music, and travel. Although Kathy and Steve lived in northeast Italy near Venice for 3 years, as well as several cities in the U.S., she always called Henderson, KY her home. Aside from the comforts of family and home, Kathy had an entourage of friends from coast to coast and around the world that dearly loved her. She had lifelong friends, devoted friends, great friends, and close friends. Kathy also had acquaintances in stores and restaurants, to include every new person she ever met on any given day. But there is that one friend who encompasses them all that must be acknowledged, and that is Pam Schneider. Kathy and Pam defined the significance and meaning of the word, friendship. There are sunrises and sunsets, mountains and oceans, art, music, and yes, relationships that are so magnificent, there are few words to capture it. Instead of the repeated exclamations, the following are only a few descriptions of Kathy and her own special uniqueness. * Her love for orchids, especially purple due to their royal color. They are often referred to as the “true queen” of the flower kingdom, which is extremely apropos. * Her planning and hosting elegant Christmas or Dinner Parties * Bursting out in song whenever the spirit came over her, no matter where or when *Prosecco * Her devotion and compassion for all creatures large or small * Avoiding any movie in which an animal dies * Cards to acknowledge everyone’s everything * Perfection * Nite owl * Laughter * Fun * Full make-up * Preferably black flowing shawls and wraps * The color lavender * Setting the home a/c slightly above freezing
Kathy was blessed with a multitude of gifts. Aside from those she loved, her passion for music was the essence of her being. When she was a young child, it was evident to her family that God had bestowed upon her great musical talents. How she loved to perform at home for family on the front porch as if it was a stage! A child prodigy, Kathy began singing when she was 5 years old, and her first performance was at the ripe old age of 7. Kathy sang at local talent contests, charity functions and jazz festivals. She also studied dance, and at times performed song and dance routines choreographed by her dance instructor. There was simply nothing Kathy couldn’t do. Kathy was not alone on her road to stardom. Her brother, Larry Barnes, was her muse. She credits Larry with influencing her more than anyone else in his uncanny ability to “feel a song”. During his career, Larry was a recording artist for the Tree International Publishing Company. On his trips to Nashville, he often took Kathy along where she began to sing some of the demos for the Tree International writers. By this time, Kathy was fully on board. By the year 1964, Kathy had developed into a powerhouse singer. She was still too young to perform in most clubs; however, during that same year, Larry had joined a group called, The Creations”. In no time, the group’s name was changed to “Larry Barnes and the Creations”, which became an occasional venue for Kathy. The year was 1965. Larry and Kathy’s career and popularity were on the rise, and they were touring throughout the country with numerous bookings. One of their favorite performances was at an open air USO concert at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, CA. One person most instrumental in guiding Kathy and Larry’s career at that time was their dear friend, country actor and music performer, Smiley Burnette, Gene Autry’s sidekick in films, radio and TV. Kathy had many favorite heavyweight influences; such as, Dusty Springfield, Gladys Knight, Marvin Gaye, the Eagles, Donna Summer, Patsy Cline and Etta James; however, there was a local great that warrants mention. Pat McCormick was a beloved friend and a respected jazz pianist. It was unparalleled when Kathy performed at The Preston Arts Center’s “McCormick Hall” in Henderson, KY which was named in honor of Pat and Heather McCormick. At 15 years of age, Kathy signed on Challenge Records in LA and released 4 singles. In contrast to Kathy’s youth, enthusiasm, spirit, and eagerness to perform, Larry was more than ready to return to the real world in Henderson, KY, and Kathy followed. Back in Kentucky, Kathy became employed at Anaconda Aluminum, working 9 to 5. She was sought out by none other than the Singing Cowboy, Gene Autry. This was Kathy’s entrée into “the big time”. Autry set up a meeting with music exec Dave Burgess in Nashville, and she signed with him. Her first session was in 1976. During that first session, an MGM rep came into the recording studio and offered her a contract to which she verbally committed. Much like the current TV hit, “The Voice”, maybe not a chair turned, but another door opened and this time it was Merle Haggard who heard Kathy sing. At their first meeting, he asked Kathy to sign on his label. Honoring her verbal commitment to MGM, she kindly declined his offer. During, the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s, Kathy released 47 singles, 4 albums and 7 LP singles charting nationally and internationally with appearances in the US, Canada, England and Japan. Kathy received two ASCAP Awards for singles, “Someday Soon” (Ian Tyson) and “Catch the Wind” (Donovan). Both writers and publishers received awards for Kathy’s singles. Kathy was on King Records in Japan with “Body Talkin”. She was invited to appear at the distinguished Tokyo Music Festival along with Donna Summer, Rita Coolidge, Al Jarreau, Sergio Mendez, and other global artists. Kathy did daily TV shows and magazine interviews in Tokyo. Kathy’s last label was Handshake Records, a subsidiary of CBS Records, New York, and signed with House of Gold Music as a writer. In later years, Kathy and Larry enjoyed giving back to their beloved community by performing benefit concerts. This included a fundraiser for Relay for Life in KY, and a reunion concert for old and new friends and artists that featured Larry and Kathy performing in McCormick Hall on November 24, 2018 to start a Boys and Girls Club in Henderson, KY. Kathy’s most recent performance was a benefit for Corydon Christian Church in Kentucky just a few short months ago. Kathy was anticipating a recording studio that Larry was to create for the next exciting phase in their lives. Kathy was also looking very forward to beginning a new chapter of music ministry, singing at church worship services; however, that dream did not reach fruition because Kathy had finished her earthly work. Kathy’s engagements now are strictly heavenly, but if we listen closely, we just may hear the majestic voice of our angel, Kathy Barnes Hillock. Visitation will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, Rudy Rowland Funeral Home, Henderson, KY. Visitation 2 pm to 8 pm CST Memorial Service Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, First United Methodist Church, Henderson, KY. 10 am CST In lieu of flowers, the Hillock Family requests donations to the Greenville Humane Society, Greenville, SC, and Corydon Christian Church, Corydon, KY. The Hillock Family wishes to express their sincere gratitude to the Greenville Memorial Hospital in South Carolina, its doctors, nurses and staff who all diligently and earnestly provided Kathy with comfort and care.
No services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Kathy Barnes Hillock
October 7, 2019
Kathy was by far the most talented young lady I ever knew. She wasn’t only a singer but an artist in so many other areas, decorating, painting, etc. She will be missed by so many people. She was so thoughtful and kind.