John Kirn
1952 - 2019
BORN
1952
DIED
2019
FUNERAL HOME
Biega's Funeral Home - Middletown
3 Silver Street
Middletown, CT
Kirn, John
John Robert Kirn PhD, Professor of Biology at Wesleyan University, died last Sunday, November 10, 2019 at his home in Middletown, CT at the age of 67. John was born in Columbus, Ohio, son of the late John Justus Kirn and Martha (Von Mulley) Kirn. John is survived by a daughter Ella Seiwert-Kirn, a son, Jake Seiwert-Kirn, their mother Cindy Seiwert, and his beloved sisters Roberta Kirn and Marda Kirn. Dr. Kirn received his BA from the University of Denver, his MA from Bucknell University, his PhD from Cornell University, and joined the Wesleyan Biology department in 1994. Dr. Kirn was an accomplished teacher at Wesleyan as well as a well-respected neuroscientist who published numerous papers focused on how dynamic processes in the brains of song birds acquire and store information. John served as the chair of the Biology Department from 2015-2017, and as the chair of the Neuroscience and Behavior program from 2001-2013. A memorial service will be held Wednesday at 6 pm at Biega Funeral Home, 3 Silver Street, Middletown. Friends may gather prior to the service from 5 to 7 p.m. Memorial contributions may be sent to Little Traverse Conservancy ( https://landtrust.org/) or the ACLU (aclu.org). To share memories or express condolences online, please visit www.biegafuneralhome.com
To plant trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published by Middletown Press on Nov. 17, 2019.
MEMORIAL EVENTS
Nov
20
Memorial Gathering
5:00p.m. - 7:00p.m.
Biega's Funeral Home - Middletown
3 Silver Street, Middletown, CT
Nov
20
Memorial service
6:00p.m.
Biega's Funeral Home - Middletown
3 Silver Street, Middletown, CT
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17 Entries
I only recently learned of John's passing. We were grad students together at Cornell. He was one of my favorite people there. He was kind enough to invite me to give a seminar at Wesleyan, and I would occasionally see him at meetings. I will always remember him as a gentle soul who had a dry wit that I really enjoyed.
Sarah Pallas
Classmate
January 28, 2021
John is the reason I do what I do. He was and will continue to be an inspiration in my work but also in my life. Not just how to do science, but how to do science the right way: mentoring patiently and being skeptical of weird data, not weird people. Thank you for everything, John. You are missed.
jake aronowitz
Student
October 20, 2020
Please note that the Biology Department at Wesleyan is planning a memorial service for John on April 4th .

Please send your inquiries to [email protected]
Ann Burke
February 3, 2020
I learned yesterday of John's passing and it is with deep sadness that I write this note.
John was a kind, gentle and innovative teacher, scientist and friend. My condolences to Cindy, the kids and the NS&B community at Wes as well as his PPG family. John was a prince.
January 10, 2020
John was a wonderful colleague and an incredibly supportive mentor. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and will miss his advice deeply. He was a fantastic role model to so many students and junior faculty. I will miss our conversations and his gentle demeanor, and will always remember his mannerisms.
Mike Robinson
November 20, 2019
I've worked for John going on 10 years. He was always smiling and pleasant when I needed to talk to him about research in his finch colony, or just to see how he was doing. He will be missed.
Peter Shatos
Coworker
November 20, 2019
My opinion of John will always bring my smile to have known a good,smart and fair man, who was a highly successful scientist,colleague,mentor and teacher and who took on administrative duties to support his Program, Department and University. I hold John in highest respect and will try to use the lessons he taught us.
Jim Donady
Coworker
November 20, 2019
John was a valued colleague who will be sorely missed. The Wesleyan neuroscience community has lost a friend, mentor, teacher and leader. My condolences to his family.
Helen Treloar
Coworker
November 20, 2019
John was a trusted and encouraging colleague, who could always be depended upon to offer thoughtful answers to any question. His preternatural calmness always placed interactions with him on a solid footing. My most treasured memories are how comfortable he made me feel during my transition to Wesleyan campus: always emphasizing how happy he was to have me as a colleague. Thanks John!
Matthew Kurtz
November 20, 2019
I was so sad to hear about John's passing. I was his student and undergraduate researcher in his lab when he first came to Wesleyan. He was such a kind mentor and fantastic teacher. He had a major impact on my career path by getting me excited about neurobiology, helping me decide what to do after college, and having confidence in my abilities. I am forever grateful for his guidance and kindness. My condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.
Rachel Henderson
Student
November 20, 2019
Although, we never had the opportunity to personally meet John, we can see that he passed on many fine qualities to his daughter, Ella. Through the many stories we have heard, it is obvious that John was not only a scholar but an amazing father. He has passed on to his daughter, a passion for science and a heart that is kind and caring. We are blessed to have your daughter in our lives and thankful for the impact you had on her. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family and loved ones.
The Brown Family
November 19, 2019
Too long since I saw John. Sweet, generous man who loved people I love. Best to all who mourn his loss.
Tom Thornburg
November 19, 2019
I was deeply saddened to hear the news that John passed away. I valued him as a trusted colleague. He was a gentle soul, a caring teacher and thoughtful and supportive colleague.
Ruth Weissman
Coworker
November 18, 2019
I worked with John often in the past 25 years and cannot remember a single instance where he raised his voice or expressed impatience, annoyance or displeasure. You will see the word "kind" repeated here frequently because it is simply what comes to mind when you think of him. John, you will be missed by many.
Maureen Snow
November 18, 2019
He was a kind person, a kind friend, a kind teacher, a kind mentor, and a kind scientist.
Stephen Devoto
Friend
November 18, 2019
John was adored by his students and deeply loved and admired by his colleagues at Wesleyan University. I will miss his intellect, wit, and friendship.
Janice Naegele
November 18, 2019
John always made me feel at ease with him. I'll always remember his gentle and kind spirit. Too soon, my friend, far too soon. Rest peacefully.
Mike May
November 18, 2019
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