Kirkpatrick helped others, community

Published 12:34 am Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Local businessman C.L. Kirkpatrick died this past weekend, just days shy of his 94th birthday.

Kirkpatrick was in the insurance business before opening Kirkpatrick Funeral Chapel on July 15, 1965. He also was the district manager for Booker T. Washington Insurance.

“It was then that I fell in love with helping people; in doing for them in their time of need,” Kirkpatrick told The Star-News in 2013.

Helping people was something Kirkpatrick did quietly and often, Sammy Glover, a former employee, recalled Monday.

“I found Mr. Kirkpatrick to be a very caring individual,” Glover said. “He was very civic minded, and did a lot for individuals. He paid for a lot of children’s educations. That was his primary interest, making sure young people had opportunities. If young people had the ambition to better their lives, he did what he could to assist them.”

The funeral home moved to its current location on the bypass in 1975, Kirkpatrick told The Star-News in 2015, when he marked the 50th anniversary of the business.

For at least 50 of those years in business, Kirkpatrick sponsored a Sunday morning gospel show on WAAO, current owner Blaine Wilson said. Kirkpatrick built a radio booth at the nursing home, and for many years personally did the show, which always opened with the Lou Rawls recording of, “Have you stopped to pray this morning?”

“I don’t think they’ve ever missed a Sunday,” Wilson said. “It was an incredible commitment he made to do that show week in and week out.”

In 2011, the Andalusia Kiwanis Club named Kirkpatrick the citizen of the year, citing his gift of more than seven acres of property and $200,000 for the establishment of Kirkpatrick Park, turning his  family’s personal tragedy into a blessing for the Andalusia community.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan in 2004, fire destroyed the Kirkpatrick home and claimed the life of Mr. Kirkpatrick’s wife, Sallie Ann Kirkpatrick. Mr. Kirkpatrick and members of his family wanted to create a permanent memorial to Mrs. Kirkpatrick and give back to the community that has supported him for years.

He also was honored by the Alabama Recreation and Parks Association with its community service award that year.

Kirkpatrick retired in 2013, turning the management of the funeral home over to Howard Barrett, who had worked with him there since 1994.

Barrett said he had previously worked for Marshall Funeral Home.

“When Mr. Marshall closed, I let it rest for a while. Then a lady whose son had passed asked me what to do, and I said, ‘We’ll go to Kirkpatrick.’ ”

Before Barrett left that day, he told Mr. Kirkpatrick he was ready to go to work.

“And that’s how it’s been for the last 20 years,” he said. “He taught me everything I know. It’s like a father-son relationship. He treated me like a son.”

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Fri., March 15, at First Baptist Church on Whatley Street. Mr. Kirk’s body will lie in repose at Kirk’s Funeral Home from 3 until 8 p.m. on Thursday.