Lloyd Junior ‘Jay’ Kirby, 79
Lloyd Junior “Jay” Kirby, 79, of Lewes, Del., passed on from this life to the next on Sept. 23, 2019, with his wife and children by his side. He was born on April 12, 1940, in Freemont, N.C., one of six children of the late John Lloyd and Rebecca Jane Kirby.
His early years were spent working in North Carolina cotton and tobacco fields, and later in the Delaware chicken houses beside his father, waking up early to work before school. Through these experiences, he learned the importance of a hard day’s work, as well as compassion and family loyalty. His parents raised him to be a true Southern gentleman with manners, humility and a “country boy” accent that he never lost.
In 1949, the Kirbys moved to Sussex County, Del., his home for the next 70 years. As a 1959 graduate of Millsboro High School, he attended yearly reunions. He went on to serve his country in the U.S. Navy and was stationed in San Diego, Calif.
In 1961, he married his first love, Patricia Fisher of Millsboro. During a 1963 deployment out to sea, his first child, Treasa, was born. Two years later, they were blessed with a second child, Martin Lloyd. He considered his granddaughter, Shenika, to be one of his own children as well.
As the patriarch of his family, Kirby enjoyed taking an active role in the annual family reunions. He was known for his finesse in grilling a whole pig to carry on the family’s North Carolina barbecue recipe and traditions, and he especially enjoyed the fellowship among his immediate and large extended family.
Kirby was self-educated and passionate about each of his hobbies. When something new interested him, he dove in to learn all that he could — nothing was done halfway. In 1981, he opened his own electronics repair store, Hi-Tech TV Service in Milford. He was always skilled and knowledgeable with the latest technology.
His favorite pastimes included photography, bowling, bicycling, gardening and cooking. He was adventurous and appreciative of all types of food, a good margarita, wine tastings and craft beer — especially a stout.
For many years, Kirby was an active member of the White Clay Bike Club and the Sussex Cyclists. He logged in an average of 7,500 miles per year, riding almost daily, even in winter. He was named the Sussex Cyclists’ 2013 Volunteer of the Year. For years, he was a ride leader for several B rides a week (30 miles at 18 mph); participated in the annual Ride of Silence and Bike to Work Day; led the Sussex County contingent of riders for the annual Legislative Ride to Dover; and volunteered for many summertime Safety Stops, in which DelDOT to provides bike safety gear and information to cyclists.
Kirby was a taskmaster in his group rides. Whether it was three or 20 riders, 10 or 50 miles — safety rules applied, and no riders were to be left behind, no exceptions! He was personally affected when hearing of another cyclist that went down. It made him even more vigilant about safety in his solo and group rides.
Albeit quiet, modest and gentle, Kirby fervently supported positive change for many social issues. He volunteered at the Milford Food Bank’s school-lunch program. He chose his local charity bike rides for their causes, including Sussex County Meals on Wheels, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, for local Workforce Development scholarships, tourism in Kent and Sussex counties and more.
Most recently, Kirby embraced the mission of the Fuller Center for Housing, a faith-driven organization that works to provide adequate shelter for all people. In April, he rode the Natchez Trace from Nashville to Nachez Trace, Miss., (444 miles in seven days), and along the way fixed homes for under-served communities. It inspired him to advocate for tiny-house communities as a possible solution for workforce/affordable housing and homelessness in Delaware.
Kirby was preceded in death by his parents; his loving wife of 52 years, Patricia; his oldest sister, Earnestine; and younger brother, Ray. He is survived by his loving wife, biking partner and best friend, Michele Williams; his children, Treasa Lednum and her husband, Ken, of Hurlock, Md., and Martin Kirby and his wife, Wendy, of Millsboro; his sisters, Darlene Harrison and her husband, John, of San Marcos, Texas, Janie Walt and her husband, Mike, of Millsboro, and Gale Murray and her husband, Jim, of Millsboro; grandchildren, Shenika Kirby of Milford, Del., Rebecca Wales of Easton, Md., Martin L. Kirby Jr., and Dustin and Justin Timmons of Millsboro; 10 great-grandchildren; his aunt, Kathryn Goff of Goldsboro, N.C.; sister-in law, Martha Kirby of Waynesboro, Pa.; and many nieces, nephews and cousins he loved dearly.
He was a very genuine and kind man. He was generous, humble and would never speak an ill word of anyone. Kirby would find light in even the darkest of times and brought comfort and laughter to those who knew him. He will be deeply missed by many.
In lieu of flowers, the family requested memorial donations to the Fuller Center for Housing; P.O. Box 523; Americus, GA 31709. A celebration of life, including visitation and a food drive, was held Oct. 1, 2019, at Melson Funeral Services, Long Neck Chapel, Millsboro, Del. Condolences may be sent online at www.melsonfuneralservices.com.