James A. Kirby History

Written by James A. Kirby

04/07/2000: Rev. 04/12/2000 


I, James Alfred “Jim” Kirby, III, was born during World War II, on December 22, 1944, in Ft. Pierce, St. Lucie Co., FL, while my father was in the Navy in the South Pacific, I was one year old before my father got to see me, his name was James Alfred “Bunky” Kirby, Jr. and my mother was Marion Jean “Marijean” Horton. She came from two pioneer families of Ft. Pierce, that was then Brevard Co., FL. She was the daughter of Eugene Phillips “Gene” Horton and Marion Estelle “Marion” Gladwin, both families coming to Ft. Pierce in 1902, the Horton’s from Melbourne, Brevard Co., FL and the Gladwin’s from Jacksonville, Duval Co., FL. Upon father’s return after the War, my parents lived on the eighty acres of land my Great-grandfather Robert Usher (Reed) Gladwin turned into a Citrus Grove in the early 1900’s, it was at the North line of St. Lucie County on the West side of Emerson Avenue in an area called Ft. Pierce Farms. I was raised there until I was 10 years old.


When I was about a year old, the old family homestead, that was in a very old oak hammock and by a man made lake, burnt to the ground and we moved to the house on the northern part of the property, that was called the “helps house”. In my years at the grove, I enjoyed being in the country, which really was, our nearest neighbor by road in St. Lucie County, was .75 miles away, which was also at my Bus Stop for the School bus, at the intersection of Russos Road and Emerson Avenue, which I had to walk to. I can remember that after the bus had picked up all the school kids, ranging all grades, it only filled up about the back 6 seats, we had the whole bus to ourselves.  The neighboring land was either other groves or unimproved pasture land. My paternal grand-father, James Alfred Kirby, Sr., who with my grandmother, Emma Stockley Jerman, came to Ft. Pierce in 1922 from Smyrna, DE, was an avid quail hunter and we used to hunt the woods every weekend. At the grove, we had chickens for our eggs and for food and there was a nursery of young Citrus trees behind the house, my grand-father and father were good budders of Citrus. The property being so far removed from town, I only got to town on some Saturdays, with the family, it would be the day we got haircuts and did the shopping and dad would gossip with all the other people at Shortie's Barber Shop near the corner of Citrus Avenue and 5th Street, it later became part of the Night Club “Frankies and Johnnies”.


Hunting was not the only form of recreation at the grove.  We had hunting dogs, horses and cows along with the chickens and in the Oak Hammock beside the “Helps House”, we made trails and swings from Grape Vines and would play Tarzan. We would have huge Bar-B-Q’s and many people would come and the kids would go around the woods a shoot off firecrackers and play. The firecrackers at that time would blow a boot off a Cabbage tree, they were far more powerful than those allowed today.


I attended the first grade at Ft. Pierce Elementary School, which was a school my great-grandfather, Robert Usher (Reed) Gladwin, oversaw the construction of while he was on the School Board.  To this day, I feel it is the best looking school in all of St. Lucie County. It is now on the Historical Register. The second grade, I was at Fairlawn Elementary School and then back to Ft. Pierce Elementary for the 3rd through 6th and then I went on the same School grounds but grades 7th and 8th called Junior High School. Then I went to the newly completed St. Lucie County Junior High School for the 9th grade. Then I attended Dan McCarty High School for the 10th through 12th grade, graduating in the Class of 1962. I would like to take this time to thank one teacher that I had for all 3 years at Dan McCarty High.  He was Ralph Wentz and he gave me the groundwork and interest in math which eventually became the basis for my chosen profession and my college major. He was very hard on me because he caught me sleeping in class a few times. In 1966 I left Ft. Pierce, for Hurst, Texas, until 1970, to attend the University of Texas at Arlington, in which I was a math major. I was at best an average student in High School, but was much better in college after I had to pay for it myself, by working and going to college part time. I did not graduate, but did achieve a junior satus, in my major and a sophomore status with the other subjects. I left Texas after I lost some older members of my family and didn’t want to lose more without being at home, so I went back to Ft. Pierce. I also did an International Correspondence School course in Civil Engineering before I attended college.


In 1955, the grove land was sold, to settle the estate of my great grand-father, and my parents moved us to the Ft. Pierce Highlands, a new subdivision, which has now been bought out to become part of the airport. I lived there until 1965, except for a 3 month period when I moved to Jacksonville to work.


The Highlands was near where they built the bowling alley. I had my first job there, I was 14 and helped clean the place at night. At age 16, my interest in cars began.  My first car was a 1955 Oldsmobile.  It didn’t last long and I bought a 1954 Ford sedan.  It was a good car while I had it. I bought a 1954 Ford Convertible and a 1955 Mercury with a 312 cubic inch engine and I put that engine in the Ford. It was a very fast car for that time. It had a problem with the carburetor though and I had to put a coat hanger on the secondaries to kick in the 4 barrel in manually.  To drag race, it usually took two people in the car, one driving and one to pull the four barrel in, but regardless, there was a lot of fun had in that car.


After graduating from high school, I tried hanging Dry Wall for a living, but it was hard on the top of my head when doing the ceilings so after 3 months I looked for different work. My father worked as a surveyor for the Florida State Road Department and our next door neighbor was also a surveyor for Alton A. Register. The neighbor ask me to be at a jobsite the next day and ask Alton for a job. I got the job in 1962 and worked there a year, then quit, without notice which was something Alton never forgot. I went to live in Jacksonville with Jimmy Brown and liked to have starved to death before finding a job at Waverly J. Ray and Associates.  I worked there 3 months and the Department of Transportation offered me a job, so off I went, back to Ft. Pierce and worked for them 3 years. I passed all the tests for advancement, but because I was a Ft. Pierce guy working in a Vero Office, they wouldn’t give me any advancement.  After two years, I put an application in at the City of Ft. Pierce as a Party Chief and was given the job. Then the state said they would give me an advancement, but I told them it was to late.  I went to work for the City. I made many friends at the state job and they are friends to this day.  I worked for the city one year before my uncle, Stephen H. Horton, talked me into going to college in Texas and live by them.  After arriving in Texas, I worked at Metropolitan Aerial Surveys in Ft. Worth, Texas, until the business ran out of work and the owner got me a job at O. V. DiSchullo, a Land Surveyor in Arlington, Texas. The job was adjacent to my campus at college.  I worked there until 1970 when I moved back to Ft. Pierce and back to work for the City. I was there until 1972, when I passed my State Exam to become a Registered Land Surveyor. I went into business in 1972 and am still in it.


Certificate of Birth Florida Registrar's No. 479: born 5:42 PM, December 22, 1944: Ft. Pierce Memorial Hospital: Filed at the Florida State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Jacksonville in Book No. 1735, page No. 52971 on December 27, 1944


"FORT PIERCE NEWS-TRIBUNE", Ft. Pierce, St. Lucie Co., FL, 24 December, 1944, Page 3


Mrs. James A. Kirby, Jr., is the proud mother of an eight pound baby boy, James A. Kirby, III, in Fort Pierce hospital. Her husband is now stationed in Honolulu,


"FORT PIERCE NEWS-TRIBUNE", Ft. Pierce, St. Lucie Co., FL, 27 December, 1944, Page 3


Announcement is made of a son James Alfred, III born Dec. 22nd to Mr. and Mrs. James A. Kirby, Jr. Mrs. Kirby is the former Marijean Horton. Mr. Kirby is on duty with the Seabees in the South Pacific.


Dark Blonde/Light Brown Hair, Hazel Eyes

Attended College at Indian River Community College (various times)

The University of Texas at Arlington (1966-70)


Unknown Ft. Pierce Newspaper


Howell – Kirby


     The engagement of Miss Daisy Howell and James Alfred Kirby !!! has been announced by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. R. L. Ragin of Daytona Beach.

     Miss Howell, also the daughter of the late Claude O. Howell of Vero Beach, was born in Vero Beach and moved to Daytona in 1963. She attends Mainland High School and is a member of the Glee Club.

     Mr. Kirby, is the son of Mr. and Mrs. James Alfred Kirby Jr., of 3414 Abbott Street and is a graduate of Dan McCarty High School. He is a surveyor with the State Road Dept. in Indian River County.

     A June Wedding is planned.


"THE NEWS TRIBUNE", Ft. Pierce, St. Lucie Co., FL, Sunday, 27 June, 1965, Page 9


Miss Joan Daisy Howell Bride of James A. Kirby III At First Presbyterian

     Miss Joan Daisy Howell became the bride of James A. Kirby III in a double ring ceremony conducted by Dr. James M. Howard at the First Presbyterian Church. The service took place at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 15th.

     Music for the service was played by Laura Hewitt Whipple, organist. She also accompanied Gwynett Hilburn who sang "Because" and Jean Davis, who sang "The Lords Prayer."

     Palms and chrysanthemums were arranged in the chancel which was lighted by tall candelabras.

     The bride is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Ragin of Daytona Beach and was given in marriage by Mr. Ragin. Mr. Kirby is the son of Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Kirby, Jr. of 3414 Abbott St.

     The bride wore a formal gown of Chantilly lace designed with a scalloped neckline and a very full skirt which swept back in a train of tulle ruffles. Her tiered finger-tip veiling was trimmed with pearls and she carried a bouquet of orchids.

     Miss Gladys Osterhout of Vero Beach was maid of honor and Miss Jeanie Kirby served as bridesmaid. The two attendants wore gowns of pink embroidered taffeta and carried bouquets of pink carnations.

     Master Marlon Howell, the bride's brother, served as ring bearer.

  Dwight Goodner was bestman and ushers were Bruce Dangerfield of Vero Beach and David Stremke.

     Guests greeted Mr. and Mrs. Kirby at a reception held in Howard Hall. The brides mother, Mrs. Ragin, was seen in the receiving line in an aqua lace frock with beige accessories and a white orchid corsage. Mrs. Kirby, the bride-grooms mother, greeted quests in a blue crepe dress accented with white accessories.

     Assisting with the guests were Mrs, Gerald Abbott, Montezuma, GA., Miss Jean Davis of Daytona beach and Miss Gwynett Hilburn of Port St, Lucie.

     Leaving for their honeymoon in West Palm Beach, the bride chose a pink lace dress with white accessories. They are now residing at 1705 Boston Ave.

     Mrs. Kirby attended Mainland High School in Daytona Beach. Her husband is a graduate of Dan McCarty High School and is now employed by the State Road Department.

                                    OUT OF TOWN GUESTS

Attending from Vero Beach were Mr. and Mrs. Billy B. Crosby, Mrs. S. E. Glover Jr., Mrs. Lem Brumley, Mrs, Tom Martin, Miss Gayle Martin, Miss Claudia Howell, Mrs. Percey Lee Howell, Glenn Howell, Mrs, Charles Osterhout, Miss Carolyn Osterhout, Jim Richardson, Mrs, Bobby Brumley, Miss Janie Holland, Miss Sallie Kersey, Terry E. Tippins, Mr. and Mrs. Herny (sic) Hofmann and Oliver Hofmann. Bill Brumley attended from Winter Beach, Linda Lee Griffith and Mrs. W. L. Griffith, Palm Bay; and Mr. and Mrs. W. T. Goethe, Bill Goethe, Mrs. Jo Ann and Miss Ruth Goethe of Oak Hill.