Harriet Causey was born in Cleveland, Mississippi. Her parents were Hugh and Corinne Howry Causey. She graduated from Southwestern College (now Rhodes College) in Memphis, Tennessee, and she received a master's degree in English from Mississippi College and a master's degree in Library Science from the University of Mississippi.
Her first marriage was to attorney Herman Brister DeCell, with whom she had three children, Alice, Brister, and Causey. Herman DeCell, a lawyer in the Yazoo City firm, Henry, Barbour and DeCell, served in the Mississippi Senate from 1960-1980. He was a member of the board of trustees of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
From 1949 to 1979, Harriet DeCell taught humanities and mathematics at Yazoo City High School, along with coaching the debate team and sponsoring the literary magazine. Her literary magazine staff won an All-American award in photography from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. She was named a local Star Teacher several times and named the 1975 Mississippi Economic Council Star Teacher.
She was president of the board of the Triangle Cultural Center and a trustee of Ricks Memorial Library in Yazoo City. In 1983, DeCell became director of South Delta Library Services, which served Humphreys, Issaquena, Sharkey, and Yazoo counties. She was secretary and trustee section chairman of the Mississippi Library Association Board and chairman of the trustee section of the Southeastern Library Association Board.
She was a member of the board of directors of the Mississippi Historical Society and president of the Yazoo Historical Society. She was chairman of the board, advisor, and financial contributor to the Yazoo Historical Museum. She also served on the board of the Mississippi Committee for the Humanities and as project director of numerous of their state-wide programs. She was a member of the Middle Mississippi Girl Scout Council and a troop leader. She served as president of the Junior Auxiliary of Yazoo City.
DeCell was active in the United Methodist Church, serving as Conference Historian of United Methodist Women: Dean of the School of Christian Mission for two years; Chairman of Arlean Hall; Trustee of the Seashore Methodist Assembly; and a member of the Executive Committee of Wood Junior College.
In 1986 Harriet DeCell helped to establish Bookfriends, a fund-raising and support group for the University Press of Mississippi and served as its president. She was a member of the board of Mississippi Educational Broadcasting.
Her first husband, Herman DeCell, died in 1986. She married her second husband, John M. Kuykendall, Jr. in 1987 and moved to Jackson. He died in 2000.
In Jackson, Kuykendall was a member of Covenant Presbyterian Church and administrator of the Covenant School for the Arts. She later joined Galloway Memorial United Methodist Church where she was a member and occasional teacher of the Christian Fellowship Class, chairman the Library Committee, an officer and study leader in the United Methodist Women, and a supporter of Grace Place.
Kuykendall was a longtime member of the board of Mississippi Boychoir and later chairman of its advisory Committee, a member of the board of the English-Speaking Union and supporter of its Shakespeare Competition, a member of the grants committee of the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson, the Women's Fund, and the Mississippi Opera Dancing with Stars fundraiser.
Kuykendall was a member of the Welty Foundation, Docent at the Welty House, and a docent at the Mississippi Museum of Art. She served on the Mississippi Department of Archives and History Advisory Board and was a member of the Mississippi Historical Foundation.
She was a partner of the Mississippi Children's Museum, a member of the Symphony League, the Friends of the IBC, the Opera Guild, and ling-time supporter of the New Stage, to which she had annually brought her Humanities students from Yazoo City High School.
Kuykendall served as president of the Jackson Friends of the Library and as the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Jackson/Hind Library System.
In Jackson, Kuykendall was a member of the Research Club, Pleiades, Southern Luncheon Club, Monday Luncheon Club, High Noon Luncheon Club, the Fourth Thursday Discussion Group, Calliope Club, and numerous bridge clubs, a lifelong interest.
Kuykendall is preceded in death by her parents, her two husbands, her oldest daughter, Alice DeCell Young Wise, and Alice Causey Ewing of Memphis, TN. She is survived by her children Herman Brister DeCell, Jr. and wife, Crystal, of Orlando, FL, Harriet Causey DeCell Coffield and husband, Michael, of Houston, TX; grandchildren, Laura Young Louis and husband, Chris, of Nashville, TN; Charles Young, Andrew Wise and wife, Danielle, of Nashville, TN of Nashville, TN; Michele Coffield Whitebread and husband, Mike, of Houston, TX; Cynthia Coffield of Houston, TX; Cavalier Coffield and wife, Chelsea, of Baltimore, MD; great grandchildren, Ayden Causey Walker, Annabelle Emery Whitebread, William Alexander Whitebread, and Brian Conrad Whitebread, Margaret Lee Murphey Whitebread of Houston, TX; Aziza DeCell Louis and Brister Kye Louis of Nashville, TN; Conway Claire Henegan of Jackson, MS; stepchildren Maud Kuykendall and husband, Larry Bontempo, of Jackson, MS; Morella Henegan and husband, John, of Jackson, MS; John Kuykendall, III and husband, Charles Hudman, of Washington, D.C.; step grandchildren McClain Sampson of Houston, TX; Will McMahan of Ft. Collins, CO; Clark Henegan and wife, Audra, of Jackson, MS and step great grandchildren Nathan and Lainy Epps of Houston, TX; and Linley Henegan of Jackson, MS; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
Memorials may be made to Galloway United Methodist Church library, PO Box 1092, Jackson, MS 39215, the Mississippi Boychoir, PO Box 16395, Jackson, MS 39236, or the group of one's choice.