Mrs. Kitty Eubanks Croom was a loving presence at Pender High School for more than 15 years. She served unselfishly as a receptionist, nurse, cafeteria cashier, motherly and grandmotherly figure from 1976 to 1994. She was the quintessential school employee who loved everyone and was loved in return.
It was “Miss Kitty,” as she was known by all, who would loan students money if they didn’t have enough for lunch, recalled one Pender High School staff member. “She took care of them,” said Daisy Smith-Larkins, teacher at Pender High School. “She really loved them,”
After losing her husband to a heart attack, two of her sons to cancer and one to lifelong health problems, all within a few years of each other, Miss Kitty showed remarkable strength. She adopted the children and staff of the school as her family. She saw them as her children and grandchildren, and the feeling was mutual.
Miss Kitty gave her all when serving the school during her lifetime, so it did not come as a shock when she dedicated her entire estate to the school after her death. What was a surprise was the value of her bequest. The Pender County School System was presented with $200,000 to establish a scholarship fund to benefit needy students from Pender High School.
“Nobody knew that she had that kind of money,” said Kenneth Keith, retired Pender High School assistant principal. “She wasn’t flashy, just a nice, little old lady.”
According to one of her neighbors, nothing Miss Kitty did was extravagant. Until her final summer, at the age of 76, she mowed her own lawn and tended to her yard. It was that conservative lifestyle and simple investments that contributed to the size of her estate.
It was Miss Kitty’s hope to help students with the capability, but not the means, to attend college. The Kitty E. Croom Memorial Scholarship continues her never-ending and inspiring devotion to the students of Pender High School.