Mary Christine Hicks Kline, 85: Volunteered, used skills as a librarian

Perhaps it was only natural that Chris Kline would find a way to apply her organizational skills as a librarian to the Presbyterian churches she and her husband attended in the metro Atlanta area.

“That was very much her passion, the church library,” said Mrs. Kline’s son, John B. Kline of Decatur. Mrs. Kline helped organize or re-organize libraries in a half-dozen churches over a six-decade period in areas including Decatur, Snellville and Stone Mountain.

“What happens is people set up a [church] library, and nobody takes care of it, and it ends up being a bunch of books stacked in a corner until a real librarian gets in there and sets up a card catalog,” the son said. “You catalog all the books and index them so people can check them out and know when they’re available, just as you would at a public or college library."

Mary Christine Hicks "Chris" Kline, 85, of Stone Mountain died of a stroke Nov. 26 in hospice care at Emory University Hospital. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday in North Decatur Presbyterian Church. A.S. Turner and Sons Funeral Home, Decatur, is handling arrangements.

It also was natural that Mrs. Kline would work in the Presbyterian Church USA: Her husband, C. Benton “Ben” Kline Jr., was president of Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur from 1971 through 1976 and taught there for years.

Dr. Kline previously taught at Agnes Scott College, from 1951 to 1969, and was chairman of its philosophy department and dean of faculty. He died of heart failure June 20.

Mrs. Kline was born in New York City, spent much of her childhood in Texas and graduated from Texas Women's University in 1946. She received a master’s degree in religious education from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1950. It was at Princeton that she met and then married her husband of 61 years.

After serving as director of Christian education at a church in West Hartford, Conn., she moved to Decatur in 1951 when her husband accepted a position at Agnes Scott. While primarily a homemaker and mother, Mrs. Kline also was an assistant teacher at Decatur Presbyterian Church from 1963 to 1964.

“She started working at Oakhurst Elementary School in 1967,” as a library associate, “and decided to pursue library science as a master’s degree to learn more about her craft,” her son said.

While at Oakhurst, Mrs. Kline attended the Atlanta University School of Library Science and received her library science master’s in 1973. She worked as a librarian at Oakhurst and at Glennwood Elementary School until retiring in 1980.

Her daughter followed her mother's footsteps: Mary Martha Riviere, of Tucker, is a librarian at Columbia.

Mrs. Kline also was an active volunteer – teaching Sunday school, knitting things for shut-ins, reading to children at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston, and helping at Emory University Hospital -- until she and her husband moved six years ago to the Park Springs retirement community in Stone Mountain.

“She was very giving of herself and very modest in her demeanor,” Mr. Kline said.

In addition to her son and daughter, Mrs. Kline is survived by a sister, Margie Logan of the Los Angeles area; five grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.