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Douglas Kirby

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Douglas Kirby Obituary
Douglas Bernard Kirby
October 9, 1943 - December 22, 2012
Resident of Rio Del Mar
Doug Kirby, known throughout the world as the leading expert on the effectiveness of school and community programs in reducing adolescent sexual risk-taking behavior, died suddenly of a heart attack on December 22 while climbing Cotopaxi volcano on a family vacation in Ecuador. He was 69. Struggling on the climb, Doug sat down to rest and look out over the landscape. His final words were "Isn't life great!" which says everything about who he was and the kind of life he led.
Doug was born in Walla Walla, Washington. He did his undergraduate work at the University of Chicago and UC Berkeley and after graduation in 1966 he worked as a Vista volunteer in Appalachia. Just a few weeks ago he was contacted out of the blue by a couple of the (now adult) kids he had worked with those many years ago who called to thank him for having helped change their lives.
In 1975 Doug received his PhD in Sociology from UCLA. From 1977 to 1983 he worked as Director of the Social Science Group for Washington D.C. based Mathtech Inc. Although originally involved with military defense contracts, in the late 1970's his group applied for a national CDC grant to analyze sex education programs in the United States. What began as a lark turned into a career of national and eventually world-wide prominence in the field of sexuality education and HIV prevention. In 1988 he started a 25 year career at ETR Associates in Scotts Valley where he served as Senior Research Scientist working on projects both at home and abroad. In recent years he undertook research for the World Health Organization, USAID, and UNESCO. Doug had recently returned from Kampala where he had been working under the auspices of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities to help Uganda develop a more effective sexuality and HIV education curriculum.
Doug was known for his unwavering integrity to honest and accurate research. Working in the politically charged arena of sexuality education, he often angered the conservative right with his research showing that educating young people about condoms did not increase sexual activity and that abstinence-only programs were rarely effective. But he did not hesitate to frustrate the liberal left when his research didn't support their beliefs. Doug authored over 100 articles, chapters and monographs, including the widely acclaimed "Emerging Answers 2007" which he produced for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
Doug was an avid traveler and adventurer. At age 15 he climbed the eastern side of Mt. Whitney with his brother Rob. Mt. Rainer, the Matterhorn, and numerous peaks throughout the Sierras and Rocky Mountains soon followed. For his honeymoon in 1983 he managed to convince his new bride Gail to go on an around the world adventure, including hiking the Khyber Pass connecting Pakistan and Afghanistan. In 2008 he took his family to the top of Kilimanjaro and last year climbed in the Himalayas including up to the base camp at Mt. Everest. Doug went hang gliding off peaks in Switzerland and South Africa, bungee cord jumped off a bridge in New Zealand, and went shark cage diving off Cape Town. For his son's 18th birthday, Doug took Cameron skydiving with a landing on Beer Can Beach in Rio Del Mar near their home.
No matter what Doug did, he did it to the fullest. In Rio Del Mar there is a scenic path that runs from Sumner Avenue to Hidden Beach. For over 20 years, whenever he had free time, Doug cleared brush and poison oak and planted new trees and native shrubs. In 2008, County Supervisor Robley Levy dedicated the Doug Kirby Swale as a tribute to Doug's vision and volunteer spirit.
He leaves behind his beloved wife Gail, his children Cameron (19) and Kathryn (24) of whom he was so proud, his brother Rob, his co-workers at ETR Associates in Scotts Valley, and his many friends and colleagues throughout the world.
A memorial service is planned for January 5th at 1:00 at the La Selva Beach Community Church. In lieu of flowers, Doug's family would appreciate contributions to Zambia Orphans of Aids (zambiaorphans.org).

Published in Santa Cruz Sentinel on Dec. 28, 2012
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