William Leslie KirkJuly 11, 1932 ~ April 26, 2017 (age 84)
General William (Bill) L. Kirk passed away, surrounded by his family, at his home in Niceville, FL on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. Bill was born on July 11, 1932 in Rayville LA to Benjamin Leslie and Cloverdell Owens Kirk. He graduated from Rayville High School in 1950, enlisted in the Air Force in 1951, and became an Aviation Cadet in February of 1953. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and awarded his pilot's wings in April 1954. After 38 years of service, General Kirk retired from the United States Air Force as Commander in Chief, U.S. Air Force in Europe/Commander, Allied Air Forces Central Europe.
Bill met the love of his life, Nancy M. Early, in 1955 at Yokota Air Base, Japan. They were married on April 1, 1956. Together they had 4 children. Bill and Nancy traveled the world together, established lifelong friends, and were passionate about serving their country. Throughout Bill's career he flew more than 6000 hours in fighters, flew combat missions during the Vietnam War, in which he shot down two enemy fighters, and was awarded over 37 medals including the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal and the Silver and Bronze Stars.
After retiring and living in over 14 states and countries, Bill and Nancy established their home in Niceville, FL in 1992. Bill served as a strong liaison between Eglin Air Force Base and the Okaloosa County military support organizations. For 20 years, Bill chaired the Eglin Chapter Air Force Association Golf Tournament. Proceeds from the tournament, gifted over 200 ROTC high school students’ with college scholarships and financial awards for academic achievement. Bill's passions were playing golf, raising corn and tomatoes, hunting, spending time with family and friends, and watching the Dallas Cowboys.
Bill is survived by his beloved wife of 61 years, Nancy; daughter, Karen Bennett (Phil) of Marietta, GA; son, Stephen of Baton Rouge, LA; and son Kenneth (Roberta) of Louisville, KY; 3 grandchildren Jason, Kevin, and Sarah; and predeceased by son, William Jr. (Les). A Celebration of Life/Visitation will be held at Heritage Gardens Funeral Home in Niceville, FL on Monday, May 8th 2017, from 5-7pm. A memorial mass, with reception following, will be held at Christ Our Redeemer Catholic Church, White Point Road on Tuesday, May 9th 2017, at 9:00am. Interment with Full Military Honors will take place at Barrancas National Cemetery on Tuesday, May 9th, 2017, at 2::30pm. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in General Kirk's name to Fisher House of the Emerald Coast, 350 Boatner Rd, Eglin AFB, FL 32542. www.fisherhouseemeraldcoast.org.