29/7/1930 – 11/12/2020
On Friday 15th January we celebrated the life of Danica Kilby, a very much loved and respected lady. For many years Danny and her husband, Ralph, a well-known local preacher, were at the heart of activities at Ashley Methodist Church. Danny will be remembered for her warm and ready smile, her genuine interest in everyone. Her first question was always to enquire about one’s welfare.
Danny was born in Yugoslavia into a Roman Catholic family and grew up under a communist regime. The equal opportunities policy enabled her to graduate in Maths and Physics and she took up teaching. However, in 1956 she was reported for attending mass on Christmas Eve, dismissed and briefly imprisoned. In 1957 with just one suitcase she bade a tearful farewell to her family and left for England hoping to contact an English family she had met on the beach. They helped her to find voluntary work in a care home in Bedfordshire where she met Ralph. They fell in love, were married in 1958 and Danny became a British citizen.
Her degree from Zagreb University was recognised with an MA and she began to teach Maths in Bedford. At her memorial service we heard many messages from former pupils expressing gratitude for her care as well as her excellent teaching skills. She was also awarded a fellowship at New Hall, Cambridge.
With mathematical precision Danny and Ralph raised three daughters who each gave them three grandchildren later followed by great grandchildren all of whom adored her. Before the service we were able to see family photos covering her whole life displayed on our AV screens.
The Kilbys retired in 1990 moving to Staffordshire in 1999. Both were invited to a Queen’s garden party, Danny for services to teaching and Ralph for his social services work. They enjoyed many travels together particularly back to Croatia where they established and presented prizes for English and Maths at Danny’s old school.
Sadly in her later years Danny was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease eventually necessitating a move into a care home, at first together at Crispin Court in Stafford, then as her condition deteriorated she moved to the Methodist care home and Ralph took up residence with his daughter in Trentham visiting Danny regularly until covid prevented this. It was at this point that Ralph transferred his church membership to Trentham M.C. but Danny asked to be brought back to her beloved Ashley Chapel for her final rites. After the service she was buried at Standon Parish Church just up the road from where they had lived for many happy years in retirement.
Danny touched so many people through her teaching and charity work. She will be remembered for a heart filled with love, kindness and compassion, her courage, her disapproval of waste, her encouragement and expectation that people would do their best. Thank you, Danny, for the warmth and example you gave to all around you and for your generous gift to our church.