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James Lewis Kirby Jr.


1923 - 2015 Obituary Condolences
James Lewis Kirby Jr. Obituary
James Lewis Kirby, Jr.

Claremont - Kirby, James Lewis Jr. died peacefully on Thursday, May 7, 2015 at his James River farmland estate of Claremont Manor in Surry County, Virginia, after an exceptionally fruitful life flavored by a scholarly passion for history, heraldry, and genealogy. To that end, he was a diligent member of more than 30 organizations devoted to those subjects. He was an ardent preservationist and saved from development his ancestral property of Football Quarter Creek in Poquoson, Virginia. He also was the author, contributor, or publisher of numerous books on his family and Claremont Manor. He was born on July 13th, 1923 in Portsmouth, Virginia, the son of James Lewis Kirby and Dorette Wigg Kirby, both of whom were from Norfolk, Virginia; his father was an officer of the Seaboard Railway Company. As a boy he attended private and public schools in Norfolk, Walter Herron Taylor Grammar School, Norfolk Academy, Blair Jr. High, and Maury High, before graduating from Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia in 1941. He attended the College of William and Mary, Norfolk Division, where he was president of his class, before going to Princeton University in 1942. He interrupted his studies at Princeton by entering active service in the Army as an enlisted man in 1943. After specialized training he eventually became a member of Cannon Company, 345th Infantry Regiment, 87th Infantry Division. He sailed with his regiment for Scotland on the unescorted Queen Elizabeth in October, 1944. His unit fought in campaigns in Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Europe. The 87th was attached to General Patton's 3rd Army during the Battle of the Bulge. According to his bronze star citation, his service as a motor messenger required him to drive through areas subjected to artillery and small arms fire. He and two other soldiers in a jeep were among the first to enter Orhdruf concentration camp, part of the Buchenwald complex. He designed the new regimental ensignia for the 345th and assisted in writing the post-activation history of the regiment. After World War II he was discharged as a tech sergeant and returned to Princeton, graduating in 1948. He worked for many years in New York City as an officer in several insurance brokerage and investment businesses, before becoming president of the Guilford Company and Guilford Foundation in Richmond, Virginia. On May 29, 1954 he married Ann Sutherland Kirby and was predeceased by her on July 3, 1996. His survivors include: his son Wade Kirby of Morristown, New Jersey, wife Linda, and their sons Croft, Taylor, and Reade; his daughter Annette Kirby of Warm Springs, Virginia; and his son Roger Kirby of Richmond, Virginia, wife Louise, and their daughter Laura and son James. He was an honorary vestryman of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Norfolk. An Episcopal funeral service at Claremont Manor's chapel will be private. In lieu of flowers the family wishes that any memorial contributions be sent to: The Order of St. John, 1850 M Street NW #1070, Washington, D.C. 20036. (202) 510-9691 www.saintjohn.org. Mr. James Lewis Kirby, Jr. was appointed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to the grade of Knight of Grace in the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem (Order of St John) in 1986. The Order of St John is an international humanitarian charity and an order of chivalry headed by Queen Elizabeth II. The American Priory supports St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group, the only charitable provider of expert eye care in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Published in The Virginian Pilot on May 10, 2015
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