John C. Kirby, Sr. (Johnny), who spent his life with family, many friends and living the entrepreneurial dream, passed away peacefully on April 3 surrounded by 4 generations of Kirby's in Catonsville. He fought the gallant fight with dementia for a number of years. He was 85 years old.
Johnny’s business career was truly entrepreneurial and he was the founder of three successful businesses. With Kirby Insurance Agency, he followed his father-in-law into personal insurance and was a natural. The combination of his people skills and work ethic enabled him to excel. Generations of families remain customers. Lakewood Manufacturing produced furniture for higher education and retail with its headquarters in Carroll County. Today, his son Jimmy runs the insurance business and his son-in-law, Doug, ran the furniture company before selling it to retire.
In 1968, Johnny and his wife, Pat, brought a second home outside of Taneytown on 40 acres. The Farm, as it is known to all, became a Christmas tree farm. Nobody in the family had any knowledge of this industry. Johnny said, ‘How hard can it be??’ and took the plunge. JCK Christmas Tree Farm became a staple of many family’s Christmas season going to cut their own tree. Everyone loved the free hot chocolate and cookies and, of course, the kids loved Santa and the petting zoo of farm animals. Son, JC, ran the tree farm for 25 years.
The Farm became the hub of countless social gatherings for family reunions, massive cookouts and year-round fun. Johnny quickly had a pond built and a very large pavilion, which became the hub of the parties. Multiple generations of Catonsville families remember fondly the gatherings at the Farm. Johnny & Pat also showed their kindness by hosting numerous Boys & Girls Clubs, Boy Scouts and other organizations to camp at the Farm and enjoy all the amenities. The organizations would always walk away with a donation from the Kirby Family. The Kirby kids learned early on that the right way to behave was to help those less fortunate with your money and your time. Johnny took it upon himself to put two young ladies (whom he barely knew) through college knowing that he was their only hope of getting a degree. They did not have to ask – he offered.
Johnny loved spending his free time with physical fitness, golf and being with his large circle of friends – whom he lovingly referred to as the ‘Cronies’. Most of them were childhood friends from Catonsville, Mt. St. Joe and Loyola College. He and Pat were happiest when they were with this cast of ‘colorful’ individuals. On the golf course at both Rolling Road and Baltimore Country Club, the rules of golf were ‘stretched’ a bit and the round always ended at the ‘19th’ hole. In this sanctuary, the scores got lower and the shots more miraculous. It didn’t matter, a good time was always the result.
Johnny was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 43 years, Pat, whom he affectionately referred to as Boss, and his eldest sibling, Bosey Kirby. He is survived by his 4 remaining siblings and their spouses. He is also survived by his children, John C. Kirby, Jr. (wife, Jane Hald Kirby, deceased), Joseph C. Kirby, Sr. (wife, Dianna Lupo Kirby), James C. Kirby, Sr. (wife, Gail Pfeiffer Kirby), Maureen Kirby Widlake (husband, Douglas Widlake Sr.) and Jeffrey C Kirby (wife, Laura Meade Kirby). He also is predeceased by one granddaughter and survived by 15 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild.
In lieu of flowers, the Kirby Family requests that donations be made in Johnny’s memory to:
Mount Saint Joseph High School (www.msjnet.edu/giving). The donations will go to the DePaul Program (learning differences, dyslexia) at the school.
Alzheimer’s Association – https://www.alz.org
For those desiring, John C. Kirby's Memorial Mass will be live streamed at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_8dEMqt6jH_z69Eqe0seXA
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