A Celebration of Life for Dorothy Marie Rexrode Kirk, 85, Lawrence, will be at 10 am Saturday, March 9, at 360 Church, with the Rev. Rick Burwick officiating. A visitation will be held Friday, March 8 from 7:00-8:30 pm at Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home. Dorothy died Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019, at Brandon Woods at Alvamar.
Dorothy was born on June 25, 1933 to Roland Roy and Mabel Priscilla (Martin) Rexrode at Fort Logan (Denver), Colorado. With the exception of a few years during elementary school in San Bernardino, California, Dorothy attended public schools in rural Douglas County and Lawrence public schools. She was raised by her aunt and uncle Dorothy and Lloyd Bigsby, and graduated from Lawrence Liberty Memorial High School in 1951. She then earned a Bachelor’s Degree in 1956 and a Master’s Degree in 1972 from the University of Kansas, earning both from the School of Education.
Her family ancestors settled just southwest of Lawrence and established the Martin family homestead on the site of the current Clinton Parkway Nursery at Wakarusa Street and Clinton Parkway.
She began her career teaching in the Sigel School No. 8, a one-room rural County Schoolhouse, from 1956 through 1958. Following two years (1958-1960) on staff at Pleasant Grove School, she served two years as a Principal and 7th/8th Grade Teacher at Kaw Valley School (1960-1962). She spent the rest of her career serving in many capacities in DeSoto, Kansas (USD 232). She was an integral part of USD 232 from 1963 until her retirement in 1993. During that time, she was Principal of DeSoto Elementary school from 1975 through 1986, and finished her career by returning to her vocational passion as a classroom teacher. Twice she was elected as President of the Teacher’s Association, was a member of the National Education Association (NEA), and was a Life Member of the Kansas NEA. As a principal, she was a member of AMA and KESPA.
Upon her retirement in 1993, she was nominated for the National Teachers Hall of Fame by her family, friends, and professional peers and supervisors.
Before the establishment of women’s varsity sports teams, she was awarded a KU Letter for intramural sports in 1953 by the KU Women’s Athletics Association, excelling in basketball and softball. She enjoyed playing in Lawrence recreation softball leagues through the mid-1970’s and was a very accomplished bowler, competing regularly in State Championship competitions. Throughout her life, she remained a passionate and loyal fan of sports associated with her beloved Kansas Jayhawks.
With pride, she guaranteed that her daughter, mother, and two sons all wore oversized “Fighting Jayhawk” lapel buttons with her when the family appeared on 5 episodes of ABC-TV’s “Family Feud” game show in September of 1978. The family presented host Richard Dawson with a stuffed Kansas Jayhawk and proceeded to win four consecutive shows!
She was the matriarch of a patriotic service family. Her father, both husbands, daughter, and both sons all served in branches of the United States military. As an educator, she helped establish letter writing campaigns from her students to Vietnam era Prisoners of War.
She married Carl O. Kirk (US Air Force) in June, 1953, and had three children during her first marriage: A daughter Carla J. Wicks (Ken) of Forth Worth, Texas (US Air Force), a son Lloyd C. Kirk (Lisa) of Lenexa, Kansas (US Air Force), and another son Kyle R. Kirk of Eudora, Kanas (US Army). Her second marriage was to Gene Kirk (US Navy) of Pueblo, Colorado in June 1990 and she became step-mother to his children Darlene and Brian. She was extremely proud to enjoy 9 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
In retirement she continued sponsorship of several children in charitable programs across the globe, helped with support activities at her life-long Assembly of God church (now Lawrence 360 Church), and by remaining active in American Legion Bingo and a small bridge group. She cherished social activities with friends and members of her high school class of 1951, and she made a point to communicate birthdays and other important events regularly to the Lawrence radio program “According to the Record.”
Because she was the great-great-great-great-great grandchild of Revolutionary War veteran Alexander Martin, she was certified as a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Heritage Club in December of 2013. Staying true to her lifetime mission of serving children, she became of a member of the Lions Club International, serving in the Lawrence Noon Lions Club and gaining election to the Club’s Board of Directors.
She was preceded in death by her father (while serving in the US Army), mother, aunt and uncle Bigsby, husband Gene, a grandchild Paul Joseph Stock (while serving in the US Navy), and sisters Laurel Sue King and Elouise Rook. She is survived by daughter Carla, and sons Lloyd and Kyle.
The family extends sincerest expressions of thanks to the compassionate caregivers at Brandon Woods at Alvamar and at Douglas County Visiting Nurses Hospice for their exceptional care during Dorothy’s period of need. They were amazing providers of care who made a lasting personal difference.
Memorial contributions are suggested to either the Lawrence Noon Lions Club or the Lawrence 360 Church, in care of Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home, 601 Indiana St., Lawrence, KS, 66044. Online condolences may be sent at rumsey-yost.com