James Straughn Kirkley, a retired mortician and former owner of a Glen Burnie funeral home, died in his sleep Saturday at the Fairhaven retirement community in Sykesville. He was 86.
He was born in Baltimore and raised in Forest Park. After graduating from Forest Park High School, he moved with his family to Glen Burnie.
He was attending Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., when he enlisted in the Army in 1942.
A medic, he took part in the Allied invasion of Normandy and had attained the rank of sergeant at the time of his 1946 discharge.
"He never talked about the war very much," said a daughter, Joyce Hornberger of McConnellsburg, Pa.
Mr. Kirkley worked for the U.S. Postal Service before enrolling at the Eckels College of Mortuary Science in Philadelphia, from which he graduated in 1953.
From 1954 until retiring in 1988, Mr. Kirkley was the founder and owner of the Kirkley-Ruddick Funeral Home on Crain Highway in Glen Burnie.
Active in community affairs, he served as a president and a board member of the Glen Burnie Volunteer Fire Co. He was a member of Civitan, the Glen Burnie Chamber of Commerce, the Glen Burnie Moose and Elks clubs, and the Glen Burnie Improvement Association.
Mr. Kirkley was involved for years with the Glen Burnie Little League as a coach and league president.
The former Glen Burnie resident, who moved to Sykesville in 2001, was married for 58 years to the former Helen Maxine Smith, who died in 2001.
He was a member of the Glen Burnie United Methodist Church, where services were held Tuesday.
Also surviving are a son, the Rev. James F. Kirkley of Durham, N.C.; another daughter, Janice Kirkley of Frederick; two brothers, Edward H. Kirkley of Sykesville, and the Rev. Robert G. Kirkley of Taylors Island; a sister, Flora G. Auld of Baltimore; three grandsons; and a great-granddaughter.