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Kenneth William Kirby

Cedar Rapids

Kenneth William Kirby, 96, of Meth-Wick Community, Cedar Rapids, passed away at Mercy Medical Center on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. Memorial services will be held 11 a.m. Wednesday at First Presbyterian Church, Cedar Rapids by the Rev. Heather Hayes. Friends may visit
with the family Wednesday after 10 a.m. at the church. A luncheon will be held at the church following services. Burial will be held at a later date at Kasota Hill Cemetery, Kasota, Minn. Teahen Funeral Home and Cremation Service is serving the family.
Ken is survived by his daughter, Carol Kirby Williams of Merida, Yucatan, Mexico; son, Robert (Robin) William of Cedar Rapids; two granddaughters, Jessica Irene Kirby and Megan Grace Kirby-Kane; and grandson, Richard Kane.
Ken was preceded in death by his wife of 68-years, Bernice, who died in 2016; and his son-in-law, S. Reese Williams, who died June 4, 2019.
Ken was born July 1, 1923, in Mankato, Minn., the son of William and Irene Moeri Kirby. He grew up and attended elementary and high school in Kasota. In high school, he excelled in music, declamation, baseball and basketball. He attended and graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in 1945 with majors in Chemistry and German. He joined Green Giant Co. as a chemist for eight years until entering Purdue University where he completed a masters and Ph.D. in Biochemistry. Upon graduation he joined Penick and Ford in Cedar Rapids where he remained for 32-years, with the exception of two years at R.J. Reynolds in Winston Salem, N.C., and five years at the University of Iowa in Preventive Medicine. He retired from active work in 1991 as chairman of the company.
Ken married Bernice Hallman of Mankato on July 26, 1947, and enjoyed a very happy life. When Bernice became an Alzheimer patient in 2006, she lived at home with him for five years in the Meth-Wick Community. Ken found music a great diversion from science and was very active as a singer, soloist, choir member and director. He was a member of the Civic chorus and Chorale Midwest. He also did male quartette work in college, at Green Giant and at Purdue. He was a 20-year member of the New Horizons band, a former director of the Fine Arts Council, a member of the symphony board and a 55-year member of the Community Concert Board.
Ken was active in publishing and wrote many chapters for texts covering starch and carbohydrate chemistry. He was a member of the American Chemical Society, TAPPI, the Institute of Food Technology, Cereal Chemistry and Textile Chemistry and the Cedar Rapids Literary Club. He was a 45-year member of the Cedar Rapids Country Club and a member and Deacon, Trustee and Elders of the First Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. Cedar Rapids.
Ken enjoyed writing essays for the Literary Club ranging from science to humor and Alzheimer disease where he presented lecture material. His major accomplishment in life has been the success at getting the CDC to change the physicians handbook for completing death certificates by physicians to have an example of Alzheimer's death when diagnosed as the underlying disease. The CDC reports to Congress each year on the number of deaths and it is a way to get funding for research to cure or prevent the disease. He leaves this as a legacy for his wife, Bernice, who died of the disease and for the several million people who have yet to die and who will benefit from research funding.
Memorials may be directed to the family.
Online condolences can be left at www.teahenfuneralhome.com.
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