F.M. Kirkley, surrounded by his children, passed away peacefully on July 8, 2019. He was 99 years young. His was truly a life well lived.
He was born Frank Malcolm Kirkley to Frank and Lillie Crowe Kirkley in Evergreen, Louisiana, on March 14, 1920. He was the youngest of their four children.
F.M. graduated from Evergreen High School in 1937. Like his older brother, he joined the war effort and enlisted with the Army Air Corp during World War II. He devoted 3 years of service to his country and remained a patriot for the remainder of his life. One of his greatest honors was being invited to participate in Honor Flight and visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
On June 30, 1945, F.M. married Ruth Merritt, and the pair embarked on a lifetime of adventures. They traveled all 50 states, Mexico and Canada. They could often be seen riding their “bicycle built for two” around Springhill, Louisiana, and were known as local celebrities because of it. They pedaled thousands of miles and would remain together for almost 67 years until her death in 2012.
Playing Rook and other games was a favorite pastime for F.M., and he was known to be quite the fierce competitor. He loved baseball his entire life and vividly remembered the first minor league game in Shreveport he ever went to see as a nine year old boy. He loved LSU baseball and football, as well as the Texas Rangers. In all these things, FM enoyed people, visiting, reminiscing, and sharing his incredible memory with others!
F.M. led by example. He believed in hard work, honesty and integrity. He was employed as an auto parts salesman for years at Spence Auto in Springhill - finally retiring when he was almost 90 years old.
He had the epitome of a servant’s heart and loved the Lord. He was a faithful member of the United Methodist Church his entire life. For many years, a member at the Springhill United Methodist Church and in later years at the Magnolia United Methodist Church. Prior to moving to Magnolia, FM and Ruth volunteered for 15 years at Springhill Medical Center. After moving to Magnolia, FM continued volunteering his time to both the Stewpot ministry at his church and with the Magnolia Regional Medical Center Auxiliary. In fact, he volunteered at the hospital until the last week of his life.
Above all, F.M. said his greatest accomplishment was his family. He and Ruth had three children: Randy Kirkley (Brenda) of Camden, AR, Suzonne Evans (David) of Mansfield, TX, and Ginger McConnell (Cecil) of Magnolia, AR. His five grandchildren: Chad Kirkley, Michelle Kirkley Hopkins, Trey Evans, Jason McConnell and Kirk Lee McConnell, lovingly called him “Papoo.” F.M. is survived by nine great grandchildren with another on the way.
He is also survived by a very special and loving friend, Mary Wyrick, who filled his last years with joyful companionship. His children and family are filled with gratitude for the love and care Mary shared with their father.
F.M. is predeceased by his parents, his wife, Ruth Merritt Kirkley, his great granddaughter, Maddie Kirkley, and his siblings, Jack Kirkley, Roma Kirkley Martin, and Rosamond Kirkley Ford.
A special thanks from the family goes to Dr. Johnny Alexander and the nursing staff at Magnolia Regional Medical Center for the loving, comfort care given to FM during his final days.
F.M.’s friends and family will be celebrating his life with a visitation on Friday, July 12th, from 5-7pm at Bailey Funeral Home, Springhill, LA; a graveside service on Saturday, July 13th, 10am at Evergreen Memorial Cemetery; and a memorial service on Saturday, July 13th at 2pm in the Springhill United Methodist Church, Springhill, LA. Memorials may be made in F.M.’s memory to the Magnolia Regional Medical Center Auxiliary or the Stewpot Ministry at First United Methodist Church in Magnolia, AR.
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