Allen Rayfield 'Ray' Kirby Sr., 89

Insurance underwriter was a college football star.

July 27, 2008|By Gus Sentementes

Allen Rayfield "Ray" Kirby Sr., who was an All-Maryland football player in college on the Eastern Shore and later worked for decades in the insurance industry, died Wednesday of natural causes at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care in Towson. He was 89.

Mr. Kirby grew up in Chestertown, where he graduated from the public high school. He attended Washington College, where he majored in education and served as student body president his senior year.

Fit and athletic at an early age, Mr. Kirby played football, basketball, and baseball at the college. In 1941, he was nominated by The Sun as an All-Maryland football guard. Forty-eight years later, he was honored again by being inducted into the college's Athletic Hall of Fame.

After graduating from college, Mr. Kirby joined the Naval Reserve, where he was a chief petty officer from 1943 to 1945. He was stationed in Norfolk, Va., where he was in charge of a physical fitness and training program, said his son Allen Kirby Jr. of Timonium.

While in the Navy, Mr. Kirby met his future wife in Baltimore. He married Esther Cecelia Wiseman in 1947, and they were together for 61 years. They had two sons and started their family in North Baltimore's Northwood neighborhood. In the 1950s, they moved to Towson, his son said.

Mr. Kirby started work in 1951 as a field underwriter for a company formerly known as Homelife Insurance and stayed with the company until his retirement in 1988, according to his son.

In 2004, Mr. Kirby and his wife moved to Brighton Gardens, an assisted-living facility. Both suffered from dementia late in their lives, and Mr. Kirby's wife died last month, his son said. He said he remembers his father as a fit man who loved to play and watch sports.

"He worked out for most of his life," his son said.

Mr. Kirby was the youngest of five children, all deceased.

Services will be held at noon Wednesday at the Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens Mausoleum Chapel in Timonium.

Mr. Kirby also is survived by another son, William M. Kirby of Stuarts Draft, Va.

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