Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Remembering my Dad: Michael Richard Kirby 1931 - 2010

You'll have to excuse a non-directly related amateur radio post today, but I think you'll understand why it's important to me and I hope you'll find it interesting too.

My father died on the 11th February, 2010. He'd been ill since just before Christmas. A father is important to every child, but since this is an amateur radio blog, I'll tell you that it was Dad that introduced me to shortwave. On a Hacker Helmsman radio, we listened to a 160 metre AM net (must have been in the early 1970s) which was probably the first amateur signal I ever heard. Dad encouraged me to get my amateur radio licence and was always very supportive and interested in the hobby (we had fun discussing D-STAR towards the end of his life when he was ill in bed). When I was away on expeditions, he'd listen on my old Sony ICF2001D receiver and heard me from the Comoros (D68C) and the Caymans (ZF1VX) as well as other, closer locations.

When Dad was fading, we had the opportunity to talk about what he would like said at his funeral. That sounds grim. It wasn't really. Hugely sad at times and funny at others. Anyway, I made some notes (on my iPhone, naturally) and worked them up, with a few additions from Mum, into a piece which Father Stephen used at Dad's funeral. Here they are:

"Michael Richard Kirby was born on the 8th June, 1931. He weighed just over 4 pounds and his grandfather asked ‘will IT live’! His father, Stephen was a dental mechanic and his mother, Doris, a milliner. He grew up in north west London but moved to Bishops Cleeve at a young age. He remembered playing on the Grange, where the Zurich offices now stand. Spending the war in Bishops Cleeve he recalled seeing a Messerschmidt fighter strafing the area around Smiths Industries.

He served in the Army for his National Service and was a Bombardier in the 65th Regiment HAA, Royal Artillery as well as a brief spell in the iCorps.

As a young man, he was keenly interested in cycling and was a member of the Severn Valley CRC. They were interesting times for cycling, but Mike was proud of having been involved in the arrangements for the first Tour of the Cotswolds when cycle road racing was in its infancy.

He started work as a Printers Devil but moved to work at R.E&C Marshall where he finished as a director. When RE&C Marshall ceased to trade, the company was reborn as Marshall Metalworkers, where he was responsible for the company winning two Civic Awards for architectural metalwork, which he was very proud of.

He met Pam at Percy Braisby’s pottery. They used to go to Charlie Fry’s junk yard and buy ‘something nasty for sixpence’! Pam and Mick married in 1958. They had two children; Tim, born in 1963 and Louise born in 1966. They settled down in Cheltenham where the children grew up happily and attended local schools. Mike experienced some heart problems resulting in a triple heart bypass when he was 56. The bypass was successful, but Mike and Pam decided that he should retire from Marshall Metalworkers and that they would move to Cornwall. Mike and Pam spent 20 years in Mylor Bridge, Cornwall where they led a happy and fulfilling life. They were active in the local St Mylor Church and Mike frequently helped with fund raising by making beautiful wooden items for sale. They enjoyed walking and exploring together and Mike was a keen (bad, his words!) birdwatcher and took a delight in nature generally.

His interests were wide ranging; he loved making things, photography and antiques. He enjoyed music; Jazz and Classical – particularly Bach and Mozart. They moved back to Cheltenham at the end of 2007 and had enjoyed being closer to Louise and Tim and their families as well as exploring the town and surroundings once again.

His health started to deteriorate in December last year. He spent some time in Cheltenham General Hospital before returning home on New Year’s Eve to be nursed lovingly by Pam as well as Dr Ropner and the team of nurses from Berkeley Place Surgery who could not have done more to make his last weeks as easy as possible.

He leaves a wife, 2 children, 1 grandchild and 4 step grandchildren."


mrsnesbitt said...

"They used to go to Charlie Fry’s junk yard and buy ‘something nasty for sixpence’"

Ooooooooooooooooh Tim, being married to an engineer this made me laugh out loud! A wonderful tribute. Dxx

g4ilo said...

Sorry to read of your loss, Tim. My father is responsible for me being here too, though only indirectly as he was never a ham or had any interest in ham radio. He was a hi-fi enthusiast, and being also a teacher which was not a well paid profession in those days he had to build his stereo equipment from kits advertised in Wireless World since he couldn't afford ready made equipment. As a boy, I was fascinated by the components with their coloured bands and strange markings, and the glass valves with intricate internals, and by the mystery of circuit diagrams. So I became interested in electronics at a very young age and came eventually to ham radio.

Lori Green said...

A lovely tribute to your dad - an interesting man and fascinating life. Best wishes to your mum.

Dick said...

I lost my dad three years ago so I understand your own pain. When your parents die you are an orphan whether you are seven or seventy years old.

I think of my dad with great affection and always will.

You will too.


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