Clarence Nathaniel “Kirk” Kirkland, Jr.
CN “Kirk” Kirkland, Jr. passed away peacefully with family at the ET York Hospice Care Center on February 17, 2017, after a long adventure-filled life. He was 94 years old.
Kirk was born on October 31, 1922 in Two Egg, Florida, to CN Kirkland, Sr. and Bernice Messer Kirkland. In his youth the family moved to Olustee, Florida, now considered his beloved hometown. Kirk entered the University of Florida in the fall of 1940. His college career was cut short when he joined the US Air Force in 1942, and served his country as an aviator. He made a career of military service, which included a ten year station in Japan, flight training, foreign language studies including Japanese and Russian, as well as combat pilot duty in World War II and Korea. He retired from the service as a Major in 1965, with almost 25 years on active duty. Kirk then pursued his second career passion, criminal justice. During this time he returned to his education and earned a Bachelors degree from Rollins College and Masters Degree from American University in Washington DC. His Criminal Justice career included service as Chief of Police in Sumter, South Carolina, and Titusville, Florida. He left local law enforcement in 1973 to become a professor of Criminal Justice Studies until another retirement in 1981. This retirement afforded him the opportunity to reside in Olustee where he focused on his historical research, another passion, with emphasis on the Battle of Olustee and other local history. He was a staunch supporter of the Olustee Battlefield Historical Site as well as the annual re-enactment and was a past president of the Lake City Chapter of Sons of the American Revolution. He also completed research on the life of Rhoda K. Gibbs, former First Lady of Florida, whose story was the subject of his historical novel, Rhoda, published in 2013 when he was 90 years old.
In 1987 Kirk’s life turned yet another new chapter. That year he married his beloved wife, Nancy Childs French Kirkland, and moved to Gainesville, Florida. During their almost 30 year marriage, they shared a love for travel, and their frequent trips took them to over 33 countries including the Orient, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Kirk never really “retired”. He was active in Gainesville real estate as a broker with Caldwell Banker MM Parish realty well into his 80’s. He “made a living playing golf” until his last days! When not on the golf course, Kirk enjoyed fishing at Ocean Pond, writing, and lapidary. Some of his gemstone creations are coveted treasures of his family. He was active in the local chapter of MOAA, serving as a past President.
Kirk is preceded in death by his parents, brother Raymond Kirkland, sister Margaret Kirkland Littlefield both of Lake City and a son Charles Costa Dupree. He is survived his wife, Nancy Kirkland, his children, Tracy Kirkland, Clinton, NC; Susan Kirkland Rice, Statesboro, GA; Douglas Kirkland, Titusville, FL; Vianne French Marchese (Michael), Gainesville; and Alysia French Joyce (Chris), Lancaster, SC; and his grandchildren, Olivia Rice Figueroa (AJ), Lawton, OK; Dr. Diana Marchese, Chapel Hill, NC; Katherine Marchese (Logan May), Dover, NJ; Forbes Ouzts, Jacksonville; Taylor Joyce, Charleston, SC; Dominic Marchese, Raleigh, NC; Elizabeth Marchese, Gainesville; and Stiles Joyce, Lancaster, SC. He also had numerous nieces and nephews.
A memorial service is planned for 3:00pm Friday, February 24, 2017, in the Chapel at Trinity United Methodist Church. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made in Kirk’s name to the HONOR Center for Veterans at the NF/SGVHS in Gainesville, Florida or the Gainesville MOAA scholarship fund.