SEE ALSO: Memorial service set for Steven Himes

She was always smiling.

The tragedy surrounding the death of a local mom and educator could never erase the smile or story of Amanda "Kate" Himes, her family and best friend said Tuesday.

"Even on a rough day, she smiled," said Kelly McKinsey, a lifelong friend of Himes and first-grade teacher for the Dallastown Area School District.

Himes died from multiple injuries, according to a Tuesday autopsy, after her husband fatally shot her Saturday night before taking his own life in their Chanceford Township home. She was 39.

But family and friends are not focusing on the sad news surrounding her death. Instead, they are celebrating the joy she brought to the world while she lived. Russell and Ann Blew, Himes' parents, said their daughter was deeply loved and will be deeply missed by many.

They said there are three important things they want everyone to know about their daughter: She accepted Jesus Christ as her savior while she was a teenager attending the Wilds Camp in North Carolina, she helped coordinate bus routes at Red Lion Bible Church to bring children to church, and she was a Sunday school teacher for the high school girls class at the Red Lion church.

"We know that she is in a better place with Jesus, and that thought brings us comfort and strength, along with the prayers of our fellow believers," McKinsey said.

Himes loved Christ, and was a devoted mother and educator, family said.

A 1991 graduate of Red Lion Christian School and 1994 graduate of Cedarville College, Himes spent her career as a math educator. She taught seventh- and eighth-grade math at Red Lion Christian School, served as an adjunct professor of math and coordinated math tutoring at York College, and taught SAT math classes and a summer math program at Collinsville Library in Brogue.

As a mother, Himes loved and adored her school-age sons, Benjamin and Daniel, McKinsey said.

"She was deeply devoted to them, driving them to numerous practices and games for soccer, football, basketball and lacrosse," she said. "When they were babies, she was always rocking them and reading to them and taking them on adventures to lakes and amusement parks."

McKinsey, who is also 39, became friends with Himes while they attended preschool at Red Lion Christian School. Their families had neighboring farms, and they frequently ran through the fields to see each other, she said.

"It was kind of like that song, 'Over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house we go.' But for us, it was across the field and through the woods to my best friend's house I go," McKinsey said.

Growing up, the two played basketball together and were part of Red Lion Christian's first-ever, state championship winning team in 1991.

"She was the point guard, and I was the forward. We were a dynamic duo," McKinsey said.

As they got older, the games changed. McKinsey and her father would go to the Blew residence on holidays, and several rounds of board games and card games would ensue.

"It was something Amanda always looked forward to. She loved spending holidays with family and friends," McKinsey said.

The two went to church together, celebrated birthdays together and saw each other every week.

"She was my constant. She was my go-to friend, my best friend," McKinsey said. "I couldn't go to church Sunday morning without her. We always sat in the same pew, side by side. I couldn't go and not see her there."

Himes is deeply missed by both the church community and local community, she said.

In addition to teaching math at the Collinsville Library, Himes was a Friend of the Library who helped with fundraisers and other activities.

"She was such a kind, gentle person, and everybody loved her," McKinsey said.

Obituary info: In addition to her sons, parents and best friend, Himes is survived by family who lovingly referred to her by her middle name, Kate. She's survived by two brothers, Russell David Blew of Munson, Pa., and Nathan Hains Blew and his wife, Allison, of Windsor; a niece, Lydia Blew of Windsor; and extended family, friends and colleagues.

A viewing will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday, and a funeral will follow at 11:30 a.m.. Both services will be held at Red Lion Bible Church, 105 Springvale Road.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Red Lion Bible Church Custodial Fund for Ben and Dan Himes at 105 Springvale Road, Red Lion, PA, 17356.

- Candy Woodall can also be reached at cwoodall@yorkdispatch.com.