Mr. James “Jim” Elbert Kirby was born on November 19, 1929, in Supply, NC to Jesse Elbert and Myrtie Galloway Kirby. Jim peacefully passed away Sunday, March 5 surrounded by family at Westminster Retirement Community – Rock Hill, SC at the age of 93.
Jim met his wife, Sylvia Sermons Kirby, in Supply. Sylvia knew Jim was “the one for her” and got to know him through her friendship with his sister, Amelia. They were married on August 24, 1952. Jim and Sylvia spent the next 71 years creating a beautiful legacy.
Jim graduated from Edwards Military Institute, Wilmington College (now University of NC Wilmington), and North Carolina State College (now NC State University) School of Engineering in Raleigh, NC after serving his country in the United States Navy beginning in 1947 aboard the USS Fulton and Jicarilla. Jim continued his naval service in the reserves, retiring as a Commander. After college, Jim took a job at Western Electric as a Field Engineer assigned to the US Navy, eventually moving back to Brunswick County NC to work for Riegel Paper Company, a position he held for 14 years. Jim and Sylvia moved from Supply, NC to Rock Hill, SC in 1974 to open a Honda, Suzuki and Kawasaki Motorcycle Dealership (Honzuki Inc), a dream come true for Jim. Always a “gearhead”, Jim began riding motorcycles during his time in the Navy and was hooked from his first ride, which he was proud to say was on an Indian Motorcycle. While in Rock Hill, Jim also worked for the Bowater Paper Company. Jim and Sylvia moved to Millinocket Maine during his tenure with Bowater, where they shared some of their fondest memories together. After 17 years at Bowater, Jim retired in 1994.
Jim was a dedicated father, grandfather and great-grandfather who enjoyed teaching his children and grandchildren life-skills and building memories they will never forget. After retiring, Jim’s passion for motorcycles continued. He had a revolving collection of classic bikes that led to many fond friendships and memories. Jim also became an avid woodworker and craftsman. There was rarely a task that Jim set his mind to that he did not complete. Jim proudly rode motorcycles and crafted handmade furniture well into his late 80s. Jim would often admit that he had ridden countless motorcycles but was proud to admit “I never rode a Harley”.
Jim was a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Rock Hill, SC and Concord United Methodist Church in Supply, NC. He donated countless hours to the WPC Wheelchair Ministry and rarely missed a Friday Morning Bible Study with Dr. Shelton Sanford.
Jim is survived by his wife Sylvia, son: Geoffrey Neil Kirby (Toni) of Wilmington, NC, son: Richard Kyle Kirby (Pam) of Rock Hill, SC; son: James Stephen Kirby (Elaine) of Rock Hill, SC; grandchildren: Laura Pickard (Matt) of Mint Hill, NC, Elizabeth Kirby of Mount Pleasant, SC, Tyler Kirby (Rachel) of Summerville, SC, Katie Kirby of Bailiwick of Jersey United Kingdom, Cameron Kirby of Rock Hill, SC, Taylor Kirby of Concord, NC, Evan and Yates Kirby of Wilmington, NC; and five great-grandchildren. In addition, he has two surviving sisters, Amelia Thomas and Emily Sellers.
Jim and Sylvia would like to thank the staff of the Westminster Retirement Community for their selfless care and support during his time with them.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the NC State Alumni Association (https://give.ncsu.edu/?appealcode=UCGNW) or Speedway Children’s Charities - Charlotte Chapter (https://www.speedwaycharities.org/donate/)
A celebration of life will be held Saturday March 11, 2023 at 1:00 PM with visitation beginning 1 hour beforehand at Concord United Methodist Church, 147 Southport-Supply Rd SE, Supply, NC 28462. A graveside will be held immediately following the service at the church.
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