Dale (Papa) Kirk, age 73, passed away peacefully on Sunday, in Racine, WI with his family by his side. He received so much love in his life, because he gave so much of it.
Dale was born on March 23, 1943 in Racine, to parents Alvin and Doris Kirk. He contracted Polio in 1952, just before the Salk vaccine emerged. He lost the use of his right leg, but never let it get him down, determined to pursue paths unaffected by his disability. He graduated from Park High School in 1961, and studied business and accounting at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He worked for JI Case Corporation in various accounting positions for 33 years, and upon retirement, worked for Strong Funds in their 401K group. He enjoyed a long career in business, and retired for good in 1999.
Dale married his only wife Lori, in 1974. They had three children together. To say that Dale was a loving family man is a gross understatement. He was a kind, gentle, and selfless leader, who always put his family first. He poured his leisure time into family activities, from weekend getaways to summer vacations up north, and hundreds of car shows on sunny afternoons in between. Even on a bum leg, Dale threw the ball around with Michael, and danced with Alison and Kristin. He was the best Dad.
They say people gravitate to what they’re best at, and it’s so true of Dale. Once his children were grown, he was enriched by the time he spent with his family. He hung out with his brother Steve, and Dave and Jo, enjoying being a part of their lives and watching Bon, Gunnar, Brandon, and Alexa grow from children to adults. He experienced the joy of becoming a Grandfather. He helped raise Alex from a baby to kindergarten, and they were two peas in a pod, enjoying a very special bond. He developed similar bonds with Parker and Noah. The common thread that bound was Dale (“Papa”). They all loved their Papa so much.
Dale loved cars. And Corvettes were king. From the quarter midget he helped build and race with his Dad and brothers, to his first car, a ’48 Chevy, to the 9 Corvettes that he’d come to own, to his various family cars, Dale took great pride in keeping them clean and waxed. For a man with one leg, driving great cars was his freedom, his escape. A life highlight included a recent family trip to the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY. And of course he loved auto racing. Some of his fondest memories were of Road America, in Elkhart Lake. He enjoyed the Can-Am series and June Sprints events with his Dad and brothers in the 60’s and 70’s, the Indy Car events with his young family in the 80’s and 90’s, and sports car and vintage racing events in his later years with his children and grandchildren.
Dale is survived by his former wife Lori, his son Michael (Kelly), daughter Alison (Mike), and daughter Kristin (Marty); his grandchildren Alex (11), Noah (8), and Parker (7); his sisters Kathi, Nancy (Joe), and Barb, and his brother Dave (Jolene); and many nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his father Alvin, his mother Doris, brothers Steve and Tom, and sister-in-law Tammy.
A Funeral is scheduled for Friday at Maresh-Meredith and Acklam Funeral Home, 803 Main St. in Racine, WI with visitation from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and service immediately following. His son and daughters will officiate. All are welcome to attend and celebrate Dale’s life. We’d like to thank all of our family and friends for their well-wishes. In lieu of flowers or donations, please take a Sunday drive on an open road in a clean car, on your own or with your family, and think of Dale. He’ll be smiling.