Editor’s Note: I stumbled across this tribute to my great-uncle today. It was written July 7, 2009.
Robert Hugh Kirksey was known by many names.
To those who knew saw him at the Pickens County courthouse from 1962 until 1981, he was “Judge Kirksey.”
To those serving with him in World War II, during which he was decorated for his bravery, he was “Lt. Kirksey.”
To those who knew him more casually around his native Pickens County, he was “Mr. Robert Hugh.”
At his church, he was known as devoted servant of Christ and congregational leader.
To his wife of more than 60 years, he was known simply as “Bob.”
To his four daughters, he was “Daddy.”
To his other relatives, he was “Boss,” a nickname bestowed upon him by the household cook when he turned 12 and asked her to begin addressing him as “Mister Robert Hugh.” She opted to call him “Boss” instead.
That young man shouldn’t have worried. Respect and accolades followed Robert Hugh Kirksey for eight decades.
Though never an official designation, “storyteller” may have best fit him. Robert Hugh Kirksey always had a story to tell. Usually humorous. Never hurtful. The family favorite involved a talking parrot that belonged to his mother, and that tormented young Robert Hugh.
He collected his life’s worth of stories in two books, “With Me: Growing up in the Faith” and “People and Places.” They are a lasting legacy to his family and friends.
He never stopped sharing his stories. Late last month, he commenced an e-mail exchange with his great-great-nephew and namesake, Hugh Kirksey Davis, age 8.
“Your invitation to me to be your pen pal is very encouraging to me. I like the idea of being your friend,” Robert Hugh Kirksey wrote to the young boy. In the space of a few days, Kirksey filled an e-mail inbox with stories — stories about two dogs he had as a youngster (Skeeter and Bob). Stories about taking a picture of a tornado when he was 16, and seeing it published in a newspaper. Stories of playing in his school playground. Stories of getting caught with candy in his mouth during elementary school.
We can take many lessons from the life of Robert Hugh Kirksey – his undying faith in his Creator, his family, his community and his country.
I plan to tell some stories today in his honor.