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Jay Lee Kirk – October 23, 2017

Long-time Amarillo educator, Jay Lee Kirk, died peacefully in his sleep on Monday, October 23, 2017.
Services will be held on Monday, November 20, 2017, at 11:00 a.m. at Polk Street United Methodist Church.  Arrangements are by Boxwell Brothers Funeral Directors, 2800 Paramount Blvd.
Jay was born in Greer County, Oklahoma on July 9, 1929.  He came to Amarillo in his teens and graduated from Amarillo High School.  While in high school he worked at Kirk’s Drugstore and at Kirk’s Children’s Shop.   He attended Oklahoma University, earning a degree in accounting and then served with the United States Air Force in Germany.   On returning to Amarillo, Jay received a master’s degree in education, with an emphasis on counseling, from West Texas State University.
Jay began his thirty-seven year teaching career with the Amarillo Independent School District at Sam Houston Junior High in 1957, teaching language arts and social studies and counseling part-time; he was then chosen to be a member of the first faculty at Crockett Junior High, where he remained as a counselor for thirty-five years, until his retirement in 1992.
While at Crockett, Jay met Marti Hinson, the speech and drama teacher.  Their courtship made them the talk of the school and students would stand and cheer when the couple attended events together.  They were married in 1964 at Polk Street United Methodist Church and continued their careers with AISD.  Together they enjoyed collecting antiques, traveling to New York and London to see plays, and spending their summers at Casa del Monte, their cabin in Northern New Mexico.  Jay and Marti were active in their church and in the community, and after his retirement Jay seldom went anywhere that former students didn’t greet him as “Mr. Kirk” and relate what an impact he and Marti had on their lives. In return, Jay would always say “there was never a bad kid at Crockett!”
Jay was active in professional organizations, serving as president of Amarillo Classroom Teachers Association and as a board member for the Texas Classroom Teachers Association.  He served on the board at Polk Street Methodist Church, and volunteered with several Amarillo nonprofit organizations.  He served on the Community Development Board for the City of Amarillo for ten years, and was active on the boards of Kilgore Children’s Psychiatric Center, United Way of Amarillo; Opportunity School; the Coalition for the Homeless, and the oversight committee for the Tyler Street Resource Center.  A “yellow dog” Democrat, he was many times elected to be a precinct delegate to the Potter County Democratic Convention and the county representative to the Texas Democratic Convention as well. He was a supporter of the fine arts and education in Amarillo and Canyon and was a member of the Friends of Fine Arts at WTAMU, the WTAMU Foundation, the Amarillo Area Foundation, the Amarillo College Foundation, the Amarillo Symphony, the Amarillo Opera and Friends of the Aeolian-Skinner Organ. He was often in attendance at the choir, orchestra and sporting events of Crockett, Tascosa and Bonham to see his adopted “grands” perform.
Jay was predeceased by his wife, Marti, his parents, Zorah Shipman Kirk and Aubrey Kirk, his brother, James Kirk and his sister-in-law, Martha Kirk.  Survivors include his brother, Bert, of Altus, Oklahoma, his nieces, Doris Kirk Dollins and husband, Dale, of Oluster, Oklahoma and Jana Kirk Welch and husband, Neal, of Sanger, Texas.  He is also survived by several great nieces and great nephews, as well as great-great nieces and great-great nephews, and many loving cousins, friends and former students.  Also considered family to Jay were his “cabin’’ family:  Pat Cathcart Dison and husband, Jack Dison, Lanie Cathcart Simpson and husband, Paul Simpson, and their children Katie and Paden, and Melissa Cathcart, and her sons, Parker, Cooper and Clark Davidson.
Jay was loved and will be remembered for enriching many lives with the gift of his great laughter, his wonderful stories, his sincere and caring nature, and his unconditional love and generosity.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials to Heal the City, PO Box 2556, Amarillo, TX 79105, Opportunity School, 1100 S. Harrison, Amarillo, TX 79101 and Polk Street United Methodist Church, 1401 S. Polk St., Amarillo, TX 79101.


  • James Wright Posted November 17, 2017 2:02 am

    Rest in peace Mr Kirk, you and Marti were the best neighbors anyone could ask for.

  • Mary Posted February 10, 2018 2:50 pm

    Peace and prayers to the family of Mr. Kirk he will be missed at the local Starbucks.

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