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Elizabeth C. Kirk

Obituary for Elizabeth C. Kirk

January 25, 1922 - February 5, 2018
Austin, Texas | Age 96


Elizabeth C. Kirk passed away on February 5, 2018, at the age of 96. She was born in Harrisburg, PA, on January 25, 1922, to LeRoy and Susan Conley of Hummelstown, PA, who preceded her in death. Elizabeth was a graduate of Glen Burnie High School in Glen Burnie, MD. She married John E. Kirk, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, in 1942 in Annapolis, MD. They were blessed with four children: son, Joe Kirk; daughter, Betty Kirk; daughter, Kerry Kirk and daughter, Mary Kirk. When her husband John retired in 1981, he and Elizabeth chose to move to Austin, Texas to begin the next phase of their lives.

Elizabeth was a devoted wife and mother of four and said many times that the greatest joy of her life was being a mother to children Joe, Betty, Kerry, and Mary. She said she never went to bed at night without asking God to make her a better mother with each day of her life. Elizabeth made all of their clothes, cooked all of their meals, and wherever her husband's job took her, she made their house a home. Over the years, the family moved many times and Elizabeth did all the packing, enrolled all four children in schools, took care of the family in every way possible, and she did it all with great love. She would always say that being a mother is the most important job in the world and it never ends no matter how old your children become. She grew up in an era where women did not speak of childbearing and recounted that with her first child, Joe, she did not even know she was pregnant. A friend encouraged her to go to a doctor because she was experiencing what is now called "morning sickness."

Elizabeth was a couturier seamstress, an artist of many mediums, and learned to make fine jewelry displaying her unique sense of design and composition. She sold her jewelry at a shop in Weston, MA, called "The Clever Hand" and was their most popular jeweler. Elizabeth learned to play tennis at the age of 60, never having lifted a tennis racquet before in her life. She was a member of the Courtyard Tennis Club in Austin, TX, and became quite an accomplished player. Tennis brought her great joy and she made many good friends at the club. Elizabeth made her tennis team matching tennis outfits, once again using her fabulous sense of design and sewing talent.

Elizabeth was a member of Redeemer Lutheran Church and became a Stephen Minister in 1995 seeking to always give something back to those around her. She was a quiet, soft spoken, loving, compassionate, and godly woman. She was humble, wise, and had a great sense of humor. In her husband John's last anniversary card to her he wrote: "To my precious friend: Thoughts on being married to one's best friend: First thought is, the time seems so short. To me it still seems I've spent more time away from you than with you. You were always in my thoughts and I still am anxious to get home even from short trips to hold my 'presh'. Second thought: You have always shown to me and the world how wonderful a person can be. You live with your strong faith in the Lord and courage to do the tough everyday things that mothers do for their children and for me. I have never seen anyone less of a quitter or fake anything. Third thought: Your wisdom is phenomenal. I am amazed that mine is so much less than yours. You have instincts for beauty and right living that are wonderful for me to be near. Last thought: I love you so dearly and the best I can hope for is to spend my life with you and hold you close to my heart. Nothing else in my life is nearly as important. I thank the Lord daily for your presence and health. Love you forever and beyond, John." This was written on November 5, 1989, and John passed away on January 7, 1990. Their relationship was truly lived as if every day was their last and a loving testament for their children to witness.

Elizabeth was given the gift of great physical beauty, but she never misused God's gift. Once her daughter Betty at the age of 16 was watching her prepare to meet John in Boston and she said to Elizabeth, "Mom, you are so beautiful." Elizabeth put down her brush and turned to her daughter and said gently, "Thank you, but this was a gift from God. If you had complimented on something I did, it would mean more." Betty remembers those words to this day as seeing a part of her mother's soul. Truly, her beauty radiated from within.

Her children were the joy of her life and when the last one left home, Elizabeth experienced the 'empty nest syndrome'. It was then that her husband, John encouraged her to take a class or two at John Robert Power's School of Modeling in Boston, MA. She went to sign up for a class and they hired her on the spot to be a teacher, for she had the grace, dignity, elegance and beauty of a model herself. She taught wardrobe, diction, voice, walking, posture, and makeup, which was her least favorite class because she never wore any except the "red lipstick" of her generation. Elizabeth had so many gifts and talents and learned them all in her own home growing up with a loving grandmother whose focus was to be a gracious, dignified and cultured lady.

Having lived almost 100 years, Elizabeth witnessed all the new inventions for modern conveniences and advanced technologies. She shared many stories of what she and John did without a washing machine or dryer or television, etc. They did what they had to do to provide for their family and never complained about what they did not have. They were always grateful that they had each other and that their four children were healthy, strong and dearly loved.

Elizabeth's philosophy was you could be poor, have no teeth, no shoes, old and decrepit, but you could always carry the joy of God in your heart and a smile on your face for the entire world to see. There is a painting of a Vietnamese woman who depicts that image and it has hung on the wall in her kitchen for the last 37 years. She always smiled when someone would ask her who it was, for the woman had no name, and yet, she sent a very strong message to Elizabeth's heart and soul, because that is how Elizabeth lived her own life.

At the time of her death, Elizabeth was in her 40th home. Due to the war, Elizabeth never knew if she would see her husband again when she said "goodbye", but she held her children close, always in her care, protecting and providing for them by herself until, by the grace of God, her husband came home. All those of that generation made great personal sacrifices and lives were lived day to day.

After his service in the Navy, John enjoyed an extensive career in the defense industry always going where he thought he could best serve the country. At DOD he became the Special Assistant to the Deputy Director of Defense Research and Engineering for Southeast Asia matters. From 1969 to 1970 he served as Science Advisor to General Abrams in Vietnam. Throughout the course of John's career, Elizabeth traveled all over the United States and even accompanied John when he went to Vietnam. She lived in Bangkok with their youngest daughter, Mary.

While in Saigon, John met a Vietnamese woman who would later call him from Guam as she was escaping from Vietnam. John and Elizabeth told her to bring her children and they would sponsor them in the United States. Elizabeth said it was the most significant thing she had ever done with her life. The woman's nephew, Mai Nguyen, is Elizabeth's adopted son. Mai married Jenny who had three beautiful daughters (Victoria, Tiffany and Christine) and they became great granddaughters to Elizabeth. Elizabeth and John's act of kindness has been an inspiration to all who knew her for it inspired others to know that we all, as loving souls, have the ability to impact at least one other life in this world, whether we know it or not. This beautiful family of five was a very precious gift to Elizabeth in her old age which she enjoyed up to her dying day.

Elizabeth was loved by many people throughout her life and loving memories are coming back now as they share their personal stories of their relationship with her. She gave her love freely, never expecting anything in return. Elizabeth loved God; her country; her husband; her children, and her life. She used her life by living it with great faith; compassion; generosity; friendship and a wonderful sense of humor. Elizabeth was a private and humble person, but above all, she was a loving mother and devoted wife.

Left to cherish her memory are her beloved children: son (Joe Kirk of Kihei, HI); her adopted son (Mai Nguyen of Sammamish, WA); daughters (Betty Kirk of Austin, TX; Kerry Kirk of Seal Beach, CA and Mary Kirk of Pawleys Island, SC); grandchildren (Anu Kirk of San Francisco, CA; Ryan Kirk of Culver City, CA, and Sarai Kirk Carson of London, England); great grandchildren (Otis Kirk of Culver City, CA; and Woodrow and Finlay Carson of London, England); nieces (Carol Sue Judge and Dorothy Kay Felando), and nephews (Bobby Dean Conley; Jimmy Conley; Danny Conley and David Kirk); and a host of friends. The family wishes to extend their gratitude to Hospice Austin's Christopher House for their support in her final days.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions to one of the following would be greatly appreciated: Hospice Austin's Christopher House, 2820 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Austin, TX 78702; or Crystal Aero Group, Inc., P.O. Box 2050, Crystal River, FL, 34423.

Elizabeth's daughter Betty will be flying her mother's ashes to Annapolis to be reunited with husband John. There will be an inurnment ceremony at the United States Naval Academy Columbarium on May 14, 2018.

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Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home North

3125 N Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78705
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