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Friday, April 4, 2014

Simon and Anna Kirk Memorial Scholarship Fund

In honor of his parents, Michael Kirk established the Simon and Anna Kirk Memorial Scholarship Trust to benefit graduates of Juneau-Douglas High School. The trust will be administered by the Juneau Community Foundation (JCF). Information regarding the scholarship trust is available on the JCF website here.

The Juneau Community Foundation has posted a press release announcing the scholarship trust on their web site here.

Students may also contact the Counseling Office at Juneau-Douglas High School for more information.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

(More) fun old photos of Mike

When Ben & I came up for the memorial, Mike Stanley kindly took us over to Mike's house and apartment.  The Crondahls had already done a LOT of work clearing and tossing and sorting.  They'd thoughtfully aggregated family photos for us to look through.  These were a few I found that I particularly enjoyed; thought I'd share them with you, too.

Great shot of Mike as a young man.

David, Mike, Ernest, and their mother Anna Kirk in Los Angeles.

Mike and Ernest - in color!

Mike as a young teacher.

Mike and his mum I presume going on a hike...looks like Los Angeles back country.

Mike on a motorbike!  No doubt purposely posing next to the informative signage.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A remembrance from Robin Riley Fast

I first got to know Mike Kirk when I joined the Debate Club as a Sophomore. He was the coach. I remember very little about him from Debate, only that he was encouraging and critical. The fact that I stuck with it for three years tells me that I must have liked working with him there. And it no doubt prepared me for his classes.

Mr. Kirk was my teacher for Plane and Solid Geometry and “Senior Math”—whatever that was. I said that (“whatever that was”) to him recently, when he asked me which classes I’d taken with him. He laughed. Math was not my favorite subject, but I did enjoy Plane and Solid. Mr. Kirk was rigorous and demanding. In fact he could be quite brusque, and would never tolerate anything he considered foolish, or work below the level that he believed we could reach. We would put our work on the board every morning, and he would walk through it, step by step, getting us to see what worked, what didn’t and why, what we could do more elegantly.  There was a real feeling of accomplishment when we succeeded in creating “an elegant proof.”

(Writing this, I remember that he got me my first real job—told me about a summer opening, when I hadn’t even thought of such a thing, and whom to contact. When I said that Mr. Kirk had sent me, that was enough.)

For some of us in the Class of ’66, the biggest deal of Senior year was “The Times.” It began as “The J-High Gazette,” produced by (I think) just one or two people. It definitely was not the “J-Bird,” which, whatever else it might have been, had to answer to the faculty adviser. I think what started the “Gazette” was the new principal’s prohibition of the Senior boys’ beard-growing contest. But it quickly became more than that. By the second issue, fifteen to twenty of us were in on it, and it had a new name, “The Times: They Are A’Changing.” We may even have printed the lyrics of Dylan’s song in the second issue. In any case, the title said that even if our focus was local, and I’d guess it mostly was, we were part of the big world out there, and we were rebelling. We were all anonymous, as I recall; we were on our own, no advisers for us, and it was exciting. I don’t remember how we distributed the paper, but we did, several issues during our Senior spring, and the principal, of course, was furious. There may have been more teachers who supported us, but the ones I’m sure of were Richard Pastega and Mike Kirk. Mike was very clearly delighted by “The Times.” I remember his asking some of us, with conspiratorial glee, if we’d seen the latest issue of “the naughty paper.” Of course he didn’t officially know that we were the creative culprits, but we knew we had a reliable ally who’d defend our rights to think and speak our minds.

When I told Paul that Mike had died, he said, “I’m glad I got to know him.” And so am I glad I got to know him, as my teacher and mentor, and, because of that, as a friend. In the past several years, we saw him each time we were in Juneau, and each time we were amazed by the stories he told us and by his warmth, wit, insight, and, yes, his it-could-only-be-Mike style. He gave us a lot to think about and learn from. Thanks, Mr. Kirk, wherever you are.                   

Robin Riley Fast, Sept. 2013

A remembrance from Jane Lindsey

I am sure you will have a wealth of information about Mike Kirk and you may hear over and over how years after retiring from being a teacher, he was still a mentor - he was with my children. I met him about 13-14 years ago through a mutual acquaintance at the time and was invited to brunch at the Prospector. I must have passed the test, as I was told that Mike thought I was "articulate" and our friendship began. Soon, my two children who were 10 & 7 at the time also joined the mix. He became a part of our family and quietly supported my clumsy and struggling efforts as a single parent in Juneau. He was supportive when I remarried and knew my husband's family quite well and deeply respected Ross' father.  He was a regular guest at our house for dinners and the kids were always excited to be invited to brunch at the Prospector with Mike. He was gentle, encouraging, and responsive to my children and never talked down to them.  He encouraged them to think and pursue their ideas and interests and always followed up with them on their interests when we got back together. He brought them books to encourage their ideas. Thomas received history books, Lydia received books on culture and animals. He listened to me when I expressed personal concerns about parenting, he was reassuring.

Mike taught Thomas and Lydia how to think and communicate their ideas, especially to adults. His influence in our lives was real and deep and our household craved it. This was the gift he gave my small disjointed family at a challenging time that we were able to share for years as our household grew and became more stable. Thomas graduated two years ago from college and is teaching English in Russia. Lydia is in her last year of college studying Biology and Anthropology and spent the summer working on a graduate thesis project related to political ecology. We were able to sit with him at Wildflower Court days before he passed as a family with others in the room. We talked about the world, and our fears, as he floated in and out of the conversation. Mike raised the question of Socrates and justice, our last conversation together, continuing to challenge and encourage us to learn, think, and communicate.

Jane Lindsey, Ross Soboleff, Thomas Mills, Lydia Mills

Monday, October 14, 2013

A remembrance from Shelley Rogers Thissen

I entered the teaching profession in response to a letter from then Governor Frank Murkowski to all early retirees from the State of Alaska. He wanted us to go back to school, get a teaching certificate and then help man teaching positions in the Alaskan Bush.  I have been through the best and the worst of times since I decided on the pathway of becoming a teacher.  I needed support and good advice in so many areas, not the least of which was something called “Classroom Management”.  Here’s the story of Mike Kirk’s best advice to me on how to control any student, anytime, anywhere!

            It began with Mike asking me if I had a minute?  Half an hour later, I was laughing until I cried.  According to Mike, he had met a teacher from Wyoming once.  Wyoming had been having an impossible time filling one of their bush teaching positions.  That particular part of Wyoming was peopled, for the most part, with elk, oh, and wild-eyed rancher’s kids.  After repeated attempts to get ANY teacher to stay, Wyoming considered a short, kind-of-pudgy, red-headed female teacher who wore bright red, ankle top, lace-up tennys every day, rain or shine!  Wyoming’s Board of Education members rolled their eyes, drummed their fingers and mumbled under their communal breath.  They had to have “SOMEONE OUT THERE!”, so, they hired her, ON THE SPOT!

            The first day of class our innocent, red-headed, red tennied teacher strolled into the classroom with an uncanny sense of confidence about her.  Kids were running in and out of the back door chasing chickens, leaping from table to chair to table, yelling at the top of their lungs and were, generally, completely OUT OF CONTROL!  At that point, our dear little teacher threw her coffee cup, full of boiling coffee, high into the air above the class.  Before the cup began its descent, she drew a 44 magnum pistol out of her right ankle top tennis shoe and blew the coffee cup to smithereens!

            For the first time in forty years there was dead silence in a Wyoming classroom.  For the rest of the year every student and parent addressed her with a very careful, “Yes, Ma’am” and “Will Do”.  Each and every student paid attention to everything she said in her softest voice, did ALL their assigned work and, generally, completed everything that was asked of them, in top form, ALL YEAR.  There were no complaints from the parents, all her students achieved “A’s” on their report cards and even did bonus work around the classroom without being asked.

            Mike’s Moral to this Story was: “A teacher MUST establish and maintain the upper hand in their classroom AT ALL TIMES!”  I know you can hear his clipped German accent telling me this story and I know, too, you’re laughing.  I wonder what might happen if I pulled this particular management stunt in a classroom today?  Well, NEVERMIND, BUT, I got the message.  With such an unforgettable image etched on my mind, Classroom Management has ceased to be any problem for me, WHATSOEVER, AT ALL!

Gratefully and Lovingly Submitted by:  Shelley Rogers Thissen 

Celebration of Life

October 13, 2013, was the Celebration of Life for Mike. There were so many wonderful stories by people who had come from near and far that I couldn't wait to post them. With Lisa Tansey's help, I was able to get them posted this morning. I have separated them by storyteller so you can listen to them individually. Here they are. Enjoy them over and over again, as I know I shall.  (Judy Crondahl)

Kim Laird
Recognition of Travelers
Alison Eastaugh Browne
Peter Freer
Don Greenberg
Arnie Weimer
Jackie Honeywell Triplette
Dennis Harris
Ben Tansey
Lisa Tansey
Mark Boesser
Kim Laird
Dale Wygant and Jerry Fiscus
Margo Waring
Mary Alice McKeen
Bruce Botelho
Herman Husen
Douglas Methodist Church
Ward Lamb
Mark Regan
Sheila Nickerson
Carl Brodersen
Bruce Botelho

Arnie Weimer did a drawing (he said it was a "limited edition Xerox") in honor of the celebration, and gave permission for it to be posted on the blog:

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Spreading the Ashes

On Saturday, October 12, a small group of friends and family gathered on the shores of Gastineau Channel to spread Mike's ashes, as he had requested. It was a solemn occasion with bits of humor (as Mike would have surely wanted).

 Ross Soboleff spoke about Mike's friendship with his family, drummed, and sang.