Her clear, strong voice is often raised in joyous song, paying tribute to her roots and her heritage from an exceptional musical family.
Kim Fry just loves to sing and always has. Active in Huntington East school choral groups, and the Marshall’s choir, today she sings lead in the Southern gospel trio, Bloodline.
Along with the other two members, John and Christy Snodgrass, Fry regularly gives concerts, many of them in churches. They’ve also sung at county fairs, the most recent one in Cabell County, and they’ve performed at Milton’s renowned Pumpkin Festival.
“We’ll go anywhere we’re asked. We’ve sung in Kentucky, Ohio and, of course, West Virginia and we’ve even gone south a few times,” Fry, who is an accountant in the controller's office, says.
She inherited a strong musical gene. Her 82-year-old father, sang with the well-known Gospel Harmony Boys for years and today is a member of the five-member Guardians, who are based in Columbus, Ohio. Being on kidney dialysis three days a week hasn’t slowed him much and age hasn’t dimmed his vibrant voice at all, she says. “He sounds just as good as he ever did; his voice hasn’t aged at all. I sure hope I take after him!” Fry regularly drives him to Columbus and to various other appearances. For longer trips the Guardians have their own comfortable bus, which they’ve used for gigs in Florida, North Carolina, Indiana, and even Texas.
Then there was her grandfather, songwriter and music teacher, Harkins Fry. He wrote hundreds of songs during his lifetime but sadly lost most of them in a fire that destroyed the family home when her father was young. “He wrote mostly gospel songs. His most famous one was ‘Time Has Made a Change. A lot of people were, and still are, familiar with that one.” she recollects.
Fry has only lived in two houses, the duplex her family shared with her grandmother and now where she lives with her father. Completing the family compound, her sister, Melody Davis, now lives next door.
Although she’s been at Marshall full time for 16 years, she actually got her start a few years earlier as a work-study student in the bursar's office in the mid-'80s. “I was a speech communication major with just one semester to go when my mother became ill and I quit to take care of her. I always meant to come back and finish but somehow I never got around to enrolling again.”
As the years went on, Fry worked an assortment of jobs, including serving as the weekend manager of the Ronald McDonald houses in Huntington and Charleston. She came back to Marshall as temporary help working in financial offices before finally accepting a full-time job. “I’ve always worked on the financial side.” she explains. “I’ve done a little bit of everything, My job is multi-faceted. It has to do with financial aid, grants, accounting, part payroll ... we cover a lot of territory. I never really know what the job will bring but I’m always willing to take on challenges and work with them. I guess you could say I’m a 'Jill' of all trades.”
And she finally finished that degree, or to be more precise, got a different one. A supervisor kept urging her to return to school so in 2006 she finally received her RBA.
Getting her father and herself to their various musical commitments doesn’t leave much time for recreational travel. But both have fond memories of a memorable trip to the Hawaiian Islands that a generous member of the Guardians gave to members of the group. “We stayed on Maui but we drove all over the island. It was great. We visited Oahu and went to Pearl Harbor and I couldn’t wait to go to Waikiki where I expected to see all those surfers riding the waves. But the day we were there the sea was as flat as a pancake. No exciting surfing that day—I was so disappointed!”
In the meantime there’s never much down time for the energetic Fry. An avid reader, she’s currently exploring books dealing with forensic anthropology. “It’s amazing what bones can tell you,” she says. Then there are the books with Amish themes and of course a cozy mystery or two thrown in for good measure. Add to that the thrill of chasing down a bargain. “I’m a true thrift store/yard sale addict.” she cheerfully admits. She loves Facebook and finds it’s a terrific way to stay updated with friends and family. And most importantly she and her fiancé Rick Phillips, who lives in Athens, Ohio, work hard at making the logistics of their long-distance relationship work.
And the Marshall tradition for Fry’s family runs deep and broad. Her nephews, Clark and Chris Davis, both have Marshall B.A. and master's degrees, as does Clark’s wife, Krystle, who currently is the event and building operations manager for Foundation Hall, Home of the Erickson Alumni Center. Clark’s office with West Virginia Public Broadcasting is located on the Huntington campus, where he teaches classes in communications and Chris is an adjunct professor of history.
“There’s almost always a member of my family doing something on campus,” Fry says.
But no matter how busy they are, the family always makes time for Marshall athletics. They’re season ticket holders for not only football, but men and women’s basketball as well. And should a new baseball facility someday become a reality, “There’s a good chance we’d be at those games as well.”
Friendly and outgoing, Fry says “I like my job and I particularly like my co-workers.
I’ve been so lucky to work with really good people. My fiancé says
I’m a cheerleader and maybe I am. It takes the same amount of energy to be happy
or sad; the choice is up to you. So I figure I might as well choose to be
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