January 8, 1940 – April 5, 2020
James Frank Kirkland passed away on April 5, 2020. He had been in excellent health until a sudden illness ended his long, productive life at age 80. He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Carol, who always refers to her husband as “my buddy, Jim.” Their love for each other was obvious to everyone, and an example of how a marriage can grow deeper over time.
Jim was born on January 8, 1940 in Lake Charles, Louisiana to parents Dr. Joseph Leake Kirkland and Doris McCrery Kirkland. He had one brother, Joseph Leake Kirkland, who preceded him in death on December 17, 2006.
Jim’s father was a Doctor of Optometry whose degree was from Louisiana State Normal College. His mother also graduated from “The Normal.” Jim graduated from Natchitoches High School in 1958 and earned a B.S. degree from Louisiana Polytechnic Institute in Ruston in 1962. In 1965 he attained an M.S.E degree from Northwestern State College.
His first academic position was at Stephen F. Austin High School in Port Arthur, Texas, where he taught mathematics and coached from 1962-65. From 1965 to 1967 he taught mathematics at Schweinfurt American School in Germany. In 1967, he moved back to America and taught at South Junior High School in Colorado Springs, Colorado. There he met, fell in love with, and soon married Carol Stock, a twenty-two year-old art teacher.
In 1975, Jim began teaching math at Mitchell High School in Colorado Springs. He also coached football, girls’ track (State Champions, 1983), and girls’ cross country. He stayed in contact with many of his students and girls he coached in track and cross country. In 1983 Jim and Carol created a stationery and gift store retail business, C. J. Kard, which they sold to new owners in 1996 and retired in Natchitoches, LA.
By a previous marriage, Jim had a daughter, Lauren Fox, a current resident of Shreveport. Lauren’s children are Brandon Bigelow, Brooke Bigelow Snedegar, and Carly Bigelow.
Jim’s great grandchildren are Jolie Blair Bigelow, James Brent Bigelow, Andrew Brody Snedegar, Sophie Mae Grant and Wilder James Bigelow.
All his life, Jim loved athletics. He played football, baseball, basketball–but his lifelong passion was running. Jim ran fast, he ran far, and he ran with determination and pleasure. Jim loved to laugh and have fun, only showing anger when he saw someone not being treated fairly. He and Carol traveled together and always spent as much time together as possible. One of their shared passions was music. They were especially delighted by the songs of Jackson Browne, and traveled to see him several times in concerts across the country. These last lines from one of Jackson’s songs, “Sky Blue and Black,” sum up the life-long love Carol and Jim shared:
“You’re the color of the sky
Reflected in each store-front window pane
You’re the whispering and the sighing
Of my tires in the rain
You’re the hidden cost and the thing that’s lost
In everything I do
Yeah and I’ll never stop looking for you
In the sunlight and the shadows
And the faces on the avenue
“That’s the way love is
That’s the way love is
That’s the way love is
Sky blue and black”
Jim, your bright light will always shine brightly and
my heart will always hold you