Obituary: Jerome R. Kirby Jr. (1929-2023)

Jerome R. Kirby Jr. died on December 4, 2023. He was the son of the late Jerome R. Kirby and Ann Mulligan Kirby. He was predeceased by his wife of 66 years Helen C. Kirby, his sister Ann Kirby and brother James W. Kirby.

Educated in Newport public schools, Jerry attended Portsmouth Priory and graduated from Rogers High School, class of 1949 where he played football and was captain of the basketball team. A 1953 graduate of Providence College, Jerry was a founding member of the Providence College hockey team where he played varsity. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps in 1953 and served as a Platoon Commander in the 2nd Tank Battalion, Second Marine Division and as Executive Officer of B Company, 2nd Tank Battalion. Jerry served in the Marine Corps Reserves where he was promoted to Captain. Upon completion of active-duty service, Jerry returned to Newport with his wife Helen, where he began his career in the insurance business with Newport Realty Trust Corp., later changed to Kirby Insurance. He was President and owner of Kirby Insurance and Kirby Real Estate.

He was a member of Board of Trustees of the Preservation Society of Newport County for thirty-three years where he was Vice President, and Chairman of the Executive Committee for 27 years. He received The PSNC Antiquarian Award in 1993. Jerry served on the Board of Trustees of the Redwood Library, the Newport Harbor Corporation, the Newport County Chamber of Commerce, Newport Electric Corporation, was President of the Newport Chapter of The American Red Cross, President of the Board of Independent Insurance Agents of Rhode Island and Board Member of the Independent Insurance Agents of America and the State National Director.

He was honored by the City of Newport for being the founder of youth hockey (Hilton Athletic Club) on Aquidneck Island, later to become Newport Youth Hockey.

Jerry raced on Gleam as the trial horse for the America’s Cup Races in 1958. He sailed in the Annapolis to Newport race in 1967 and raced trans-Atlantic from Bermuda to Travemunde, Germany in 1968.

Jerry’s municipal service included Chairman of the Middletown Planning Board for ten years before serving on the Middletown Town Council for six years.

He was a former Member of Ida Lewis Yacht Club, the Clambake Club, and the Reading Room, where he was on the Board of Directors. He was a member of Newport Country Club, where he served for eighteen years on the Board of Directors and for sixteen years as the Green Chair. In Jupiter, Florida, Jerry was the President of Water Bend Condominium Association at Jonathan’s Landing and served on the Board of Directors of Jonathan’s Landing Golf Club where he was Chairman of Green Committee and later President of the Board.

Jerry is survived by his seven children, Kate Kirby Greenman (Christopher) Jerome R. Kirby III (Kim), Kevin J. Kirby (Libby), Agatha Perkins (Tom), Matthew O. Kirby (Michelle), Myra Kirby, Nicholas P. Kirby (Claudia), his thirteen grandchildren Jessica A. Kirby (Craig Mackay), Eliza Howland Greenman Burlingame (Andrew Colby Burlingame), James W. Kirby II (Soleil Phan), Emily B. Perkins (Daniel East), Emma Kirby Greenman Culver (Robert M.B. Culver), Owen T. Perkins (Margaret Davies), Jerome R. Kirby IV (Galen Hass), Matthew O. Kirby, Tucker M. Kirby, M. Oliver Kirby, Seamus D. Kirby (Tatum Wadensten), Liam Jax Kirby, Lucas Cruz Kirby, his step grandchildren Olivia Kris, Julia Kris and Ruben Kris and his thirteen great grandchildren Jerome R. Kirby V and Bailey Kirby, Marin Kirby-Mackay, Hendrix and Halsten Kirby, Edward and Edith Culver, Jack and Reid Burlingame, Axel and Ayla Perkins, Coco Phan-Kirby, and Obi Perkins-East.

Visiting hours will be held Friday, December 8, 2023 from 4-7 PM in the O’Neill-Hayes Funeral Home, 465 Spring St, Newport. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated Saturday, December 9, 2023 in St. Mary’s Church, corner of Spring St & Memorial Blvd, Newport at 12PM. Burial will follow in St. Columba Cemetery, 465 Brown’s Ln, Middletown.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Jerry’s memory may be made to the Middletown Historical SocietyAquidneck Land TrustPreservation Society of Newport County, and St. Mary’s Church.




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