Jack Reece Kirby, 89, of Salem, Virginia passed away Friday, January 17, 2020 at the Virginia Veterans Care Center.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 59 years, Elva Brown Kirby, parents, Clayton Kirby and Ina Evans Kirby Humphries, sisters Urachan Kirby, Flora Kirby House, and brother Don Kirby.
He leaves behind a loving family including brother, Jerry & Sue Kirby, daughter, Wanda & Roger Jefferson and son, Jack & Donna Kirby, Jr. Grandchildren Amy & Rob Slaughter, Steven & Erika Jefferson, Jenny & Robbie Atkinson, Heather & Brandon Snyder, Emily & Tyler Ross. Great-grandchildren Audrey, Clay, Gracie, Brayden, Caroline, Jackson, Landon, Hannah, and Ava. Special cousins, Carol and Marilyn, and many in-laws, nieces, and nephews.
Born in Wallins Creek, Kentucky, he toured with a “big band” group for 3 years after graduating from Loyall High School. He came to Rocky Mount, Virginia, to run the drive-in theater for two weeks, but met Elva, and never returned to Kentucky. Stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, while serving in the Navy, he married Elva and they began their life together. They returned to the area living in Hollins, Roanoke, and finally Salem, Virginia. He was hired at General Electric in Salem where he worked for 33 years as a Materials & Inventory Control Specialist.
He had many outside interests. He always loved projecting and watching movies. As a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Motion Picture Operators Local 55 for over 60 years, he was part owner of the North 11 Drive-In; worked all the local movie theaters in Roanoke for 20 years; worked the Salem and Roanoke Civic Centers for 30 years setting up and tearing down rock concerts, broad way plays, beauty pageants, rodeos, ice shows, and other events. He was President of Local 55 for many years.
He also loved music – big band and bluegrass. He was Master of Ceremonies for the Roanoke Fiddle and Banjo Club, the Galax Ole Time Fiddlers Convention, the Vinton Dogwood Festival, the Blue Ridge Folk Life Festival in Ferrum, Virginia, and many others. He was the “booking agent” for the Brown Family Square Dancers.
After retiring from GE, he and Elva toured the country in their motorhome - doing a “northwest territory” trip including 500 miles of the Alaskan Highway, and spending 20 years wintering in Fort Myers, Florida.
His last years were spent battling multiple myeloma. Many thanks to Dr. Mark Currie, Ruth Ann, and all the Infusion Center nurses and aides that he “flirted with” at Lewis Gale Oncology / Hematology Center. Special thanks to Dr. Currie for his dedicated care and attention to the end.
A big thank you to his special Visiting Angels, Eva and Jenny. He had many Angels over the years and he loved them all.
Thank you to the staff of 2 East at the Virginia Veterans Care Center for the loving and attentive care.
Visitation for friends and family will be Sunday, January 19, from 2 to 4 PM, followed by a funeral service at Lotz Funeral Home on East Main Street in Salem. Burial will be on Monday, January 20, at 10 AM in Sherwood Memorial Park.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to any of his favorite charities – National Religious Broadcasters (NRB.org), Christian Appalachian Project, Shriners Hospital, Wounded Warriors, or other Veteran support organizations.
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