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1937 James 2014

James Kirk, Jr

December 30, 1937 — October 23, 2014

James Philip “Phil” Kirk, Jr., 76, passed away Thursday, October 23, 2014 at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Phil was born December 30, 1937 in Kansas City, Missouri, to his parents, James and Elizabeth Kirk.   Along with his brothers, Frank and Mike Kirk, Phil grew up just off Wornall Road in the Brookside area.   He attended Border Star Elementary and Southwest High School, where he graduated in 1955.   Phil was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity at the University of Kansas before he attended Northwestern University Law School in Chicago, where he earned his JD degree in 1963.   While studying on the Chicago beach in summer school, Phil met his life-long wife and partner, Judy Oberlink from Michigan City, Indiana.   They were married in December 1962 and recently celebrated their 50th anniversary.    Phil and Judy bought their first house in Prairie Village while Phil worked downtown at the Morris Hecker Law Firm.    The young couple soon had two children, David and Melinda, and later enjoyed their son in law and daughter in law Bob Sanders and Molly Davenport Kirk and their four grandchildren, Ryan, Ashley, Katherine and Sam.    Phil also loved his dogs, most notably his first beagle, Arnold Palmer.

Phil learned from his father, James Kirk, who started Kirk Welding in Kansas City, to always put Kansas City first, and he dedicated his career to building the Kansas City community.   First as a real estate broker with Ted Greene and Company and then as President of DST Realty, Phil was instrumental in the revival of Downtown Kansas City.   He was the driving force behind many downtown developments, including his first building at 1015 Central Avenue, a location at which he later helped establish the Crossroads Academy charter school.  In 2004, he saw the completion of another community project close to his heart—relocating the downtown branch of the Kansas City Public Library to the former First National Bank Building.  Most recently he helped acquire the land for the future UMKC music conservatory adjacent to the Kauffman Center, which he also helped establish by assembling the property in the 1990s.  Phil was named Kansas Citian of the Year in November 2013 by the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.

Phil was most passionate about his charitable work.   As an Eagle Scout and Honorary Chieftain in the Tribe of Mic-O-Say at the H. Roe Bartle Scout Camp, Phil was a longtime supporter of Urban Scouting.   He helped found the Kansas City Hope Lodge of the American Cancer Society, and he was a key part of the capital campaign for the Rehabilitation Institute of Kansas City.   Phil believed in the power of education and personal mentorship, and he donated countless hours to establish DeLaSalle Education Center, assist with MINDDRIVE and their mission of empowering urban youth, and support the YMCA on a downtown Y community center.   Phil’s legacy of giving will continue on with the Kirk Foundation, which he established with his father, brothers, and whole Kirk family.

A celebration of Phil’s life will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, October 28, 2014, at Saint Michael and All Angels Church, 6630 Nall Avenue, Mission KS 66202.  An inurnment and reception will follow at the church.  In lieu of flowers, please make donation to University of Kansas Medical Center, MINDDRIVE, Inc., or DeLaSalle Education Center.


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