Debbie’s Eulogy

Jim Burroway

June 7th, 2011

After Kirk’s funeral in India, family and friends gathered in Phoenix for a memorial service. Debbie, Kirk’s ex-wife and lifelong friend, delivered this eulogy:

I’m Debbie Murphy and this is Tim Lee and we have been given the honor to speak here today on behalf of a very important group in Kirk’s life — his friends. We believe that Kirk would have wanted us to talk not only about what Kirk meant to his friends, but also about what each of his friends meant to him. 

In the hours Tim and I have talked to each other, and to his family and to many others about Kirk’s life, reminiscing, looking at the impact he had on this earth, one thing became very clear. He was a man who had many friends, who surrounded himself with friends, who cherished his friends, talked about his friends, filled his days with friends and meant very, very much to his friends.

Kirk loved his family very much and would often talk fondly of the close relationship he had with his sister Maris, and of his mother Kay and his older brother Mark, and his niece and nephew Cassandra and Hunter. His love for his family only made Tim and me realize how lucky we were to be such close friends of Kirk’s — like his chosen family.

When you were Kirk’s friend you knew there would always be time for you in his life. He made sure of that. And now at this time, it is important that his friends be here for Kirk, to make sure we take the time to celebrate his friendship with us and the impact his life had on all of us.

Tim and Trisha became very close friends with Kirk when they were stationed at Osan Air Base, Korea. They watched as Kirk excelled at his job as a Chinese linguist.  He was promoted quickly and won several commendations. They lived together and played together, as I’m sure you have been able to tell from some of the pictures displayed on the picture board. They met people like Patrick F____, Terry B____, and Neil T___, people who became lifelong friends. I have sat with Kirk, Tim, and Trisha many times and heard them laugh about the crazy things they did together while they were in Korea. It was obvious that it was a very special time in their lives. 

Tim and I believe there was a higher power at work in bringing all of us together. I met Trisha and became good friends with her when we were at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. She left and went to spend a year in Korea where she met Kirk and Tim while I went to spend two years in the Philippines. While I was in the Philippines, I met Heather M____.  Heather transferred back to the National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Maryland, where she became roommates with Trisha. When I got my orders back to NSA, Trisha was there to meet me (well, after she came back from getting her hair cut) and she quickly introduced me to Kirk and Tim. 

The bond between us all was instant. We became inseparable. We spent the days at work at the NSA taking all of our breaks together and walking back and forth to each other’s offices (except for Tim who actually had to work while we were there!). We spent the evenings going out to dinner and clubs with folks like Rob S____, Terry, Patrick, and Heather. It was a great time for all of us. The point to this story is that Kirk was the common thread for all of us. He made a connection to each one of us and provided the channel for each of us to make strong bonds with one another. Tim and I know that we owe our bond to each other and to all of you to Kirk and we are eternally grateful to him for providing us this opportunity. 

Kirk’s gift for creating lifelong bonds didn’t stop when he separated from the Air Force. When he got to Phoenix he created bonds with many other people. He always spoke fondly about his relationship with LaDonna. LaDonna, you didn’t know Kirk the many years that some of us knew him, but you established a bond with him that would rival any bond he ever made with anyone else. He loved you very much, and he would often talk about the things you all did together and how much he enjoyed spending time with you. You were there for him when he needed someone, and for that we are all thankful. 

Trisha, your relationship with Kirk struggled recently as all close relationships will do from time to time, but we are sure that he never stopped loving you and he always looked back on his friendship with you with happiness. 

There are many other friends that Kirk loved to spend time with; Jodi, Kerri, Heidi and Teresa, Karen, Dennis and John. You were all very special to Kirk and I hope you will always know that. Rob, Terry, Neil, Patrick, and Heather, you were all so far away that you didn’t get to spend Kirk’s everyday life with him, but he kept in touch with each of you because you all were very special to him and you reminded him of very good times in his life. 

Tim and I have been asked several times in the past few weeks what lesson we were meant to learn from Kirk. We believe the lesson is clear: make time for your friends. Kirk had a full time job and he earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in accelerated programs, and all the while he always made time for his friends. If Kirk wasn’t able to spend time with you, it was only because he had already made plans with another friend. And he didn’t wait for you to call him, he would call you. I remember getting messages from him and if I didn’t call him back right away he would give me his usual “Call people back much?!” He loved us all and he always made time.

Tim and I have also been asked what we will miss most about Kirk.

We will miss his sarcastic sense of humor.

We will miss the way his body would shake when he would laugh.

Tim will miss the way Kirk would leave laundry in the dryer for days and empty milk cartons in the fridge just because he knew it would drive Tim crazy.

I will miss the nights spent on trips with Kirk when we would share a bed and talk until one of us drifted off to sleep.

We will miss Kirk’s adventurous nature, like going on the Big Shot in Las Vegas, and trying to go down a ski slope from the top without ever having done it before.

We will miss Kirk’s fierce competitiveness when it came to playing games. He wouldn’t give an inch, right Freddy?

We will miss camping with him.

We will miss his love of music, the way songs meant more to him than just tunes, they were lyrics and always had meaning.

We will miss his always analytical personality.

We will miss his love of all of our dogs, all 7 of them.

We will miss everything about Kirk.

We all knew a lot about Kirk, but not everything. Kirk had his secrets, his sadness, his struggles that he didn’t share. We are so sad that he left us so early, and we have thought that his legacy to us all may be to cherish your friends not only by playing with them and enjoying life with them, but by sharing your struggle and reaching out to them when you need help. Looking around this chapel today and seeing all of the people his life touched, all the people here to honor him, it is hard to believe that Kirk was never able to see himself as we saw him, and he could never comprehend how much he was loved and how much he would be missed.

Tim and I hope that his new journey finds him peace, and we hope he is finally able to feel the totality of the love that all of us, his friends and his family, have for him.

Patrick F

June 11th, 2011

Debbie & Tim….

Seriously…I am in tears. I am reading this for the very first time. Thank you! Thank you…thank you…thank you. What you expressed in the above words tell the story of Kirk. The Kirk we all knew. The Kirk that made us all laugh. The Kirk that made us cry. The Kirk we loved to fight with and the Kirk that was so much fun to make up with. The Kirk we all loved so much. The Kirk we all miss so much. Thanks for the memories and thank you both so much for speaking for all of us. I truly am in tears right now. I could not have said it any better myself!

Love to you both!


June 12th, 2011

Thanks Patrick. You meant a lot to Kirk and I know that you know that. It really is a testament to Kirk that all of us came together. I find myself close to tears every time I read this, too. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about him and wish he was here. I am grateful to Maris and Mark for what they are doing and I pray that this will save someone else’s life so that Kirk’s suffering will not have been in vain.

I hope you are doing well. It would be great to see you again. Come for a visit!


scott veroeven

August 26th, 2011

debbie: beautiful words of a beautiful friendship. thanks for sharing. and i agree that kirk’s life continues to touch other lives thru the sharing of his story.

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