Dr. Martha Elizabeth (Sasser) Kingsley, age 87, passed away on January 7, 2021, in Alpharetta, GA. She was a psychologist and educator who dedicated her life to the improving the well-being of family systems and the recovery from trauma.
Elizabeth was born on January 6, 1934, to Pirser and Nora Sasser in Atmore, Alabama. One of nine brothers and sisters, teachers and school counselors noticed that “Betty” was awfully bright and made arrangements so she could study at Pensacola Junior College. She continued her education throughout her life, earning a B.S. in education from Mississippi College, a M.A. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Louisville and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
She was appointed to the Missouri State Committee for Marital and Family Therapists by Governor Carnahan in 1996 and reappointed by Governor Holden in 2001. Her work as psychologist included her leadership of One Ward Parkway Psychotherapy Associates. She also worked with the Christian Care Program at Research Psychiatric Center as well as the Midwest Christian Counseling Center. She was particularly influenced by her work on post-traumatic stress disorder with Vietnam veterans during her training at the Colmery O’Neil Veterans Medical Center.
Prior to this, Elizabeth was an educator at the Midcontinent Regional Education Laboratory, working with inner-city teachers and student teachers. She then became a learning disabilities teacher in the Liberty Public Schools and, eventually, the Director of Special Services for the school district.
Throughout her life, Elizabeth sought to be a positive influence in the communities in which she lived. While married to Dr. James Gordon Kingsley, she became deeply involved with William Jewell College in Liberty, MO, during his service as Dean and then President of the College. In this capacity she served in town and gown initiatives with the Liberty Chamber of Commerce (such as efforts to beautify the town square) and was a gracious hostess and ambassador on behalf of the school. Later she became an integral member of the Lake Winnebago, MO, community. She was also deeply devoted to her community of faith at the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, KS.
She is survived by her son Craig and his spouse Kayomi “Hime” Kingsley; her son Gordon and his spouse Laura Wheeler; her granddaughters Abby and Sarah Kingsley; and her brother Bill Sasser.
Due to the pandemic, memorial services are being delayed to a happier and safer day. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that the best way to honor Elizabeth’s life is to remember to tell your family and friends how much you love them.