Monday, February 06, 2012

Goodbye to a hero.

My Great Uncle died this weekend. He was a real war hero. He was one of those kinds of people we read stories about and can't believe they really existed. He was one of the kindest men I have ever known even though we were not close and saw each other infrequently. This is his obituary. It made me cry. 

Donald F. Kirk was born October 3, 1920 in Pottsville, PA and died Sunday, February 5, 2012 in Toledo, Ohio after a short illness. 

Don was awarded a YMCA membership by a local judge in elementary school and that forged a lifelong interest in health and fitness. While attending Pottsville High School, he became a Pennsylvania State Champion in gymnastics and that created an opportunity for him to attend Westchester State Teachers College. At West Chester, he met Dorothy Brennan, whom he married in 1946, after returning from WWII. They were married for 62 years until Dorothy’s death in 2008.

Don was very proud of his service the U.S. Navy in WWII. After being commissioned as an Ensign by Gene Tunney, the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, he chose amphibious landing craft and was assigned to the USS Tyrrell in the Pacific. The night before the Battle of Okinawa, the landing commander was injured. The Tyrrell’s commander ordered 24-year old Lt J.G. Donald Kirk to lead the command of the 24 landing craft carrying tanks and troops to the beach. During the assault and while he was on the beach, his ship was hit by a Kamikaze, but not sunk. Later in the war, he visited Nagasaki two weeks after the atomic bomb was dropped.

After the war, Don and Dorothy moved to Toledo while he worked for Red Cross. Later, he joined Blue Cross and worked as an insurance salesman for 29 years. A lifelong Catholic, he was an active member of Christ the King, where he and Dorothy also sang in the choir. He volunteered at Red Cross and regularly attended American Legion meetings. He and Dorothy travelled extensively, including 25 Elder Hostels around the world. Always an adventurer, he rode a camel at the Egyptian Pyramids at 88 and visited the Holy Land at age 89.

He is survived by an elder sister (my grandmother), three children, six grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. He was 91. 

HistoryDocumented.com interviewed him some time ago. This is part of his story. 

Goodbye Uncle Don. You will be missed.


Unknown said...

So sorry for your loss! He sounds a lot like my grandfather who passed right before Christmas. The world lost some good men.

Kate said...

Yes, April, they absolutely have. Thanks for your note.