Dr. James M. Kilbride

KILBRIDE, DR. JAMES M. Dad, you thrived at election time, from analysis to canvassing to answering surveys, pushing for a category more liberal than offered. We're thrilled the absentee ballot arrived in time. Seat 6 at Canes games is stunningly silent, after you missed only a handful of home games since freshman year in 1951. We can't even think about Shorty's. Dr. James Moore Kilbride died October 20 in Miami at age 79. He was a gifted educator, lousy speller, passionate traveler, avid bowler, University of Miami alumnus and supporter, frustrated golfer, skilled bridge player, and terrific husband, father, grandpa and friend. "I loved dad's keen mind," said daughter Kathleen, "and working crossword puzzles with him each morning." Born in Waterbury, CT on July 4, 1933, Jamie was son of Lawrence Kilbride and Marie Moore Kilbride. Older brother Larry and beloved nana, Ellen Magnor Moore, filled the household. The family moved to Jacksonville in 1937 before settling in Miami in 1942. Jamie attended Gesu Catholic School, Coral Gables Elementary and Ponce De Leon before 1951 graduation from Coral Gables High School. He used Larry's birthdate to join the Navy a year earlier than eligible, serving 32 months as station keeper and switchboard operator while remaining in high school. It meant successive shifts, like midnight to 8 AM duty in Opa Locka then 8:30 AM opening bell at Coral Gables. "No one understood what I was doing. Everybody thought I was pulling something. Really I was working my dog off." Jim met Betty Garrison at Ponce De Leon. They began dating during freshman year at the University of Miami. He earned Bachelor of Education in 1954 and Master of Education in 1955. Betty graduated summa cum laude in 1955. The couple married at Church of the Little Flower in Coral Gables on August 6, 1955. After a Florida honeymoon they began a lifelong love of Canes football, and a deep commitment to teaching. Dad taught one year at West Miami Junior High, and at South Miami Junior High from 1956-1964, upon full time hire at Miami-Dade. He earned Doctorate of Education from the University of Miami in 1972. Dr. Kilbride was professor of psychology and education at Miami-Dade Kendall Campus until 1999, retiring after heart bypass surgery. He was department chairman of social sciences in the early 1970s. Jim was particularly proud of his union battles, writing the constitution for the first union at Miami-Dade. With Vince Napoli and Donald E. Tebbs, Dr. Kilbride was partner in the personal development firm Satori. He specialized in stress management. They co-authored the human development book, "Adjustment and Growth in a Changing World." The applauded textbook reached five editions, with an accompanying study guide. At home, years were defined by the summer trip. Nearly every June for 45 years, Jim and Betty left Miami with camper in tow. Dad prioritized forts, castles and museums. Kathleen loved her role as navigator. Dr. Kilbride, Betty and son Gary visited all 50 states. Trips to Europe were a highlight, notably 1974 when dad shipped car and camper on the Italian liner Raffaelo for a 15 week adventure abroad. Dad loved theatre, especially watching daughter Cristy perform. His laughter from the audience, and beaming smile during curtain call, made Cristy feel as if she were performing just for him. His pride extended to love for his grandchildren, who considered Grandpa Jim their "favorite person in the world." Dr. Kilbride was an enthusiastic league bowler for 50 years, member of the 700 club. We loved his distinct bowlegged delivery. He hated the nemesis 10 pin. For decades, Betty and Jim filled weeknights with bridge or bowling. Recently, he was active in three bridge groups, arriving home to detail if he "got the cards." During treasured weekday rounds with Betty and Gary, Dr. Kilbride never gave up on the elusive golf swing fix, determined to make contact in front of the ball. After diagnosis with pulmonary fibrosis, he played 18 months with a portable oxygen tank hooked to his waist. In August, one week before his final round, dad holed a 74 yard wedge for eagle at Killian Greens. Dr. Kilbride is survived by his son, Gary Kilbride, and daughter, Kathleen Marie Kilbride Calder, both of Miami, and daughter Cristin Elizabeth Kilbride Bittle of Hendersonville, NC. His grandchildren are Holland Kilbride Bittle, Caden Robert Bittle, Sydney Cristin Bittle and Simon James Michael Bittle, all of Hendersonville, NC. Sister-in-law Carolyn Garrison also lives in Miami. This is dad's obituary. It feels the end of an era. Our beloved mom, Elizabeth Garrison Kilbride, died in December 2008. Many thanks to everyone who enriched their lives.


Published in Miami Herald on Nov. 4, 2012