Thomas A. Kirk, Jr., Ph.D. of Cheshire, Connecticut, loving husband & soulmate of Janet W. Kirk, died on April 9, 2020. He was 78 years old. Tom was born on December 9, 1941 in Elizabeth, NJ to the late Winifred T. & Thomas A. Kirk, Sr. He had three sisters – Marie, Clare & Patricia, with whom he was very close. Tom was a resident of Washington, D.C., Richmond, VA, Northern VA, Ridgefield & Cheshire, CT. However, no matter where he called home, his favorite place was the beach. Tom went to St. Peter's Prep in Jersey City, NJ, earned a BA from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA, & a PhD, MA from Catholic University in Washington D.C. with a major in Experimental Clinical Psychology. He made and kept lifelong friends through his education. Tom & Janet were married on April 11, 1977 in Richmond, VA. A close friend of Janet's commented that when you referred to the couple, it was really in the form of one word, "JanetandTom." Their love for each other was deep & they enjoyed a rich, long life together. A stubborn, independent soul, Tom was a warm, compassionate man with a huge heart who wanted to help people in need. He believed in quality of relationships, not quantity. He was dedicated to his family & would drop everything for someone. A great sense of humor got you laughing along with him, as his red faced, body shaking, deep belly laughs were infectious. His earth-shattering sneezes could startle a whole building. Rarely would you not find food stains on his clothes. True to his genes, he relished being a storykeeper. Tom would collect & store endless photos (many of which he had taken), tickets, cards, newspaper clippings etc. over the years & when he felt the time was right he would thoughtfully make a calendar or album for a loved one & share in their delight in receiving this incredible gift. His voice was low & soft; often you would struggle to hear him. But you knew what he had to say was important, it had meaning – so you always leaned in. Tom loved music & if Motown was on, you'd be pulled on to the "dance floor" to see some impressive moves & a big smile. He lived & breathed his work. After retirement he enjoyed more travel with his wife Janet, going to art museums, marveling at Janet's blossoming creative talent & he always looked forward to a Yankee or UCONN basketball game. Tom's career began as a tenured professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University. His career thereafter included increasingly responsible leadership roles in the design, delivery & management of healthcare services for persons with psychiatric &/or substance use disorders in both the public & private sectors. While working for the government of the District of Columbia, Tom opened Karrick Hall, an inpatient program at D.C. General where he guided staff & gave hope to clients. One person who knew him in that capacity recently commented that, even 30 years later, people still talk of the impact he had on their lives & the recovery community there. In 1990, Tom began to serve the people of Connecticut, first as president of Liberation Programs, a substance use healthcare agency in Stamford. In 1995, he was appointed Deputy Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services (DMHAS). He became Commissioner in 2000 or as people affectionately called him "The Commish." As commissioner of DMHAS, Tom oversaw a 700-million-dollar budget, 4,000 employees in state hospitals & treatment agencies, as well as 175 funded nonprofit community providers. He was recognized as a state and national leader in the recovery movement. Tom led the department as it transitioned into a new healthcare agency, one that brought together mental health & addiction services, with a strong commitment to recovery & a robust drive to ensure & enhance the quality of services provided to individuals with behavioral health disorders. He tirelessly dedicated his career to providing services to persons seeking recovery & demanded that the system of care see them as whole persons, deserving of dignity and respect. Tom did not believe in a top-down hierarchy of care. He strongly believed that the best teachers of what works were the individuals & families he was honored to serve. In addition to heading DMHAS, he was also instrumental in the development of the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR), a nationally recognized advocacy organization for individuals with substance use disorders. In a 2006 review of the mental health systems in all 50 states, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) rated Connecticut, along with Ohio, as the best in the nation. Tom provided leadership at DMHAS for almost 15 years until he retired in 2009. After formal retirement, he consulted across the country, was adjunct faculty in the Yale School of Medicine & provided mentorship to friends, family & former staff alike. He will be long held in the hearts of the countless individuals whose lives he touched. Tom was predeceased by his wife Janet of 42 years by only 9 days. We are comforted by their eternal togetherness in spirit. Tom is survived by his son Michael Kirk, daughter-in-law Julie & grandchildren Patrick & Molly Kirk of Warrenton, VA. He is also survived by his daughter Jessica Kirk of Cheshire, CT. He is predeceased by his sister Marie VanBergen. He is survived by sisters Clare Beirne of Phillipsburg, NJ, Sr. Patricia Kirk of Baltimore, MD, sister-in-law Dani Wester of Falls Church, VA & many beloved nieces and nephews. In lieu of flowers, we ask that you consider donating to one of the following or anywhere you believe Tom would feel strongly about. • Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery. If you are interested in donating, you can do so online at https://ccar.us/
but we do not believe you can specify the reason why you are donating. If interested, you can always call: 866-205-9770. • Benedictine Sisters of Baltimore. Tom's sister Patricia is the Prioress & their community provides outreach to soup kitchens, the homeless, asylum seekers among others. If interested, please go to https://emmanuelosb.org/support.html
Or mail to 2229 W. Joppa Rd. Lutherville, MD 21093 Celebration of Life services are to be determined at a later time.