John Max Kirk, beloved husband, father, and granddad, 83, of St. Louis, Missouri, died suddenly on January 1, 2022.
John was born February 11, 1938 in Mt. Vernon, Illinois to John Aubrey Kirk and Lelah Ione Taylor Kirk. An intelligent, athletic, and well-liked boy, John graduated from Mt. Vernon Township High School in 1956 and went on to study engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana. After graduating from Rose in 1960, he joined the US Army and served in the Army National Guard for several years. After working as an engineer in St. Louis and Houston, Texas, he returned to school, obtaining his MBA at Memphis State University in 1966. John taught math and statistics at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, where he welcomed his only child, Emily Ann Kirk, in 1968 with Karole Bollinger Kirk. He went back to school in 1971, earning a degree in Accounting from Mississippi State University, then returning to Mobile to take a job with an up-and-coming company, IBM. Realizing that he belonged in education, in 1975 John took a position as Chairman of the Business Division at Richland Community College in Decatur, Illinois. He became President of Richland in 1981, and led a successful campaign to finally establish a permanent campus, where the College remains today. John married Marsha Vaughan Kirk of Forsyth, Illinois on December 15, 1984. Soon after, he began pursuing his PhD, and in 1986, he and Marsha moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where he took a position at State Technical Institute. He became President of State Tech in 1998. John retired in 2003, and he and Marsha began enjoying their retirement years, establishing homes in Keokuk, Iowa, Naples, Florida, and St. Louis, Missouri, to be close to his adored daughter and young granddaughters. John was a loving, tender, and kind husband to his cherished wife Marsha for 37 years. His sharp intellect, incredible sense of humor, curiosity about others, and passion for life shaped his daughter and granddaughters and endeared him to everyone he met. He was the most caring, thoughtful, and supportive father in the world. John was an avid runner and golfer, and he especially enjoyed playing with his group at the Elks Lodge in Keokuk. He loved to read, learn, and tackle puzzles and brain teasers. He also loved to travel, particularly to Yellowstone National Park, on family trips to Lake of the Ozarks, and anywhere with Marsha. Spending time with his wife and family was his favorite activity. The loss of John to his family, friends, and the world is immeasurable. John is survived by his wife, Marsha, his daughter, Emily Ann Kirk (Todd Evans), his granddaughters, Lily Pearl Kirk Evans and Sophie Grace Kirk Evans, his sister, Linda Ann (Ken) Reed, his brother, Danny Dale (Janet) Kirk, and nieces and nephews, David Reed, Kelly Weston, Sarah Kirk and Mandan Kirk. He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Lelah Kirk.
A Private Memorial Service will be held in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. Memorial donations can be made to the Keokuk Public Library, where John loved spending time. https://www.keokuklibrary.org/giving-moneyCall Hughey Funeral Home at 618-242-3348 or visit hugheyfh.com for further information.