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August 31,1916 - October 29,2014


Malissa Kilgore Briley, the  daughter of the late Thomas, Sr. and Eugenia Langston Kilgore, was born on August 31, 1916, in Woodruff, South Carolina, and departed this life on October 29, 2014, in Los Angeles, California. She was the eighth child of Thomas and Eugenia’s twelve children and the eldest of their three daughters. At the age of six, she and her family moved to Brevard, North Carolina, where she received Christ at Bethel Baptist Church, the Kilgore family’s church. 

            Malissa was educated in the public schools of Brevard through the eighth grade; thereafter, because there were no high schools for blacks in the rural South, she attended Stephen Lee High School in Asheville, North Carolina, graduating in 1938. Upon graduation, Malissa attended Spelman College, majoring in home economics, and graduating in 1942. She did graduate work in child psychology at Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University). In 1957, she received a teaching credential from Pepperdine University in Los Angeles.

Malissa’s sterling professional career included being the director of the first day care center in Winston Salem, North Carolina, and later the organizer and director of the first Cooperative Day Care Center in Detroit. In 1948, she moved from Detroit to Los Angeles, beginning a twenty-five-year career with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services, beginning as a social case worker and ending as Chairperson of the Department of Cultural Awareness, a position for which she was responsible for training over 9,500 Los Angeles County employees. She remained in that position until her retirement in 1976, and she received the prestigious L.A. County Employee of the Year award, presented to her by L.A. County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn. After retirement, Malissa worked part-time for several community-based positions, including Senior Program Director at Second Baptist Church. She had joined Second Baptist in 1963, under the leadership of Pastor J. Raymond Henderson, and she remained a member for the rest of her life. At Second Baptist she served on the General Board, the Community Relations Committee, and the Senior Social Service Committee. In the community she served on several boards, including the South Central YMCA. She also served as President of the Los Angeles Urban League Guild and President of the Symphonettes social club. In 1965, she received the “Good Citizen Salute” from K-DAY radio station for outstanding public service.

A devoted alumna, Malissa was a founding member of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Alumnae Association of Spelman College (NAASC-LA), for which she served three terms as President. In 1998, she received one of the first two Merit Awards given by Spelman.

A loyal and loving family member, Malissa served as President of the Kilgore-Langston-Gist (KLG) Family Reunion Committee for several terms and faithfully attended the family reunions. It was during the 1976 KLG Family Reunion, held in Los Angeles, that Malissa married Gerald Briley, the love of her life, in Second Baptist Church, with her brother, Pastor Thomas Kilgore, Jr., officiating, and her sister Ella serving as her matron of honor. 

Malissa was predeceased by her parents, Thomas and Eugenia Langston Kilgore; brothers Waymon, Lamar, Frank, Rockefeller, Wells, Thomas, Jr., Harold, Herman, and Thaddeus; sister Mamie Beatrice Kilgore Harris; brothers-in-law James Harris and Russell Adams; and sisters-in-law Ada Foster Kilgore, Airleta Rosemond Kilgore, Lucille Benjamin Kilgore, Eleanor Armster Kilgore, Mary Ethel Brewer Kilgore, Johnnie Mae Humbert Kilgore, Jeannetta Scott Kilgore, Tommie Mae Thomas Kilgore,  Annie Jones Kilgore, and Mamie Judson Kilgore.

Malissa leaves a legacy of love and many wonderful memories to be cherished by her loving and devoted husband of 38 years, Gerald Briley, sister Ella Maye Kilgore Adams, and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.




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