ForeverMissed
This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one, Michael Kirkman. Born on June 17, 1945 and passed away on June 19, 2020, he lived 75 memorable years. Though his death was a shock and surprise, and he left us too early, we are consoled by the fact that he died peacefully in his sleep. Michael was cremated and his ashes were returned to his and Sally's home in Averill Park, NY.

Given these times of pandemic, and the restrictions on travel and congregation, we are fortunate to have this virtual space in which to gather, share stories, and remember Mike. His family intends for this memorial space to be an interactive website, and we encourage visitors to help build it by adding comments, stories, and photos.

Sally wants friends and family to know that, after the lifting of restrictions makes it possible, we will have celebration of Michael's life, a large gathering of friends and family. In the meantime, thank you for your calls and condolences, and we thank you for visiting this page.
Posted by Lowell Harvey on June 29, 2020
Please accept my deepest sympathies of Mike’s passing.  He indeed had a significant impact on his many friends. Mike and I had many competitive one on one basketball games and tennis matches in high school. He was Mike with his tenacious somewhat unorthodox way of shooting baskets and serving in tennis. He must have carried this tenacious approach to life in all of his endeavors. Mike contacted me this year of which I will cherish my reconnecting with him even if only by phone. 
Lowell Harvey
Posted by Leslie Knauf on June 29, 2020
How very sad I was to learn from Sally of Mike's unexpected passing.

We met in the late 1970s and, in 1979, I had the opportunity to work for Mike at Kirkman 3hree in Delmar for four years. I had wanted to work in advertising and marketing and it was the perfect opportunity to learn about the business, as working at K3 ultimately laid the groundwork for the rest of my career in private, nonprofit and public sector marketing communications.

I always appreciated that I could always call Mike whenever I had a question about some print production issue I was dealing with, or could bring him and his staff a project to help me produce when I eventually became a K3 client. He always made working with him so easy and seamless. What a great introduction those four years at Kirkman 3hree were in the early stages of my career. Most of the credit for that goes to Mike, who was as much a mentor and good friend to me as he was my boss.

It's a testament to him as a kind and supportive friend that we always remained in touch for the ensuing 37 years thereafter, meeting periodically for lunch and catching up on developments in our respective lives, or introducing him and Sally to the latest performing artist who had caught my fancy.

I had fully expected to see Mike for lunch again at some point this year, but, sadly, it wasn't meant to be. I will dearly miss seeing him and enjoying our periodic lunches and our wide-ranging conversations. He truly was one of the "good guys" who held a special place in my professional and personal life - a rare fellow and truly a treasured friend.

I will look forward to seeing Sally, Jason, Spencer and their families, along with mutual friends and colleagues when we are able to gather when circumstances allow to celebrate the very well-lived life of our very dear friend. 
Posted by Tom Lewis on June 29, 2020
Thank you, Jason, Cyrus, and Sera for giving Mike’s friends the opportunity to express their thoughts about and their love for Mike.
I pledged Phi Delta Theta in the fall of 1963 when I was 17 years old. I was embarrassingly shy. Mike was the first person in my pledge class who I met. He was not just friendly; he was extremely open. We became friends immediately. I had trouble meeting people at that time—hey, I still have trouble meeting people—and I am not sure how my first months at the Phi Delt house would have gone had it not been for Mike’s friendship. Today, many of my closest friends are old Phis, so I know that Mike’s friendship at the time was very important to how my life has turned out. Mike and I roomed together in the Phi Delt house our sophomore year and we shared an apartment the second semester of our junior year. 
Through the last 50 years, our communication has been off and on, but each time we have gotten together, either in person, on the phone, or via email, it has been like we talked the day before. 
Twice, I visited and stayed with Mike and Sally in Albany. Once was in 1985, when I visited with my wife, Holly. In 2018, I visited Mike and Sally alone. It was a great four days that I will cherish forever. There were times during the visit when I felt sorry for Sally—a really wonderful lady—because Mike’s and my conversations always somehow reverted to our Vietnam experiences.
Twice Mike came back to Lincoln. The first time--sometime around 2008--my pledge class had a reunion. Mike came back from New York and stayed at my house in Omaha. We drove to Lincoln two days for reunion events. Our talks to and from Lincoln each day were always special to me. One of the other people who left a message on this site said that Mike always “thought hard on things.” Wow! A perfect description of Mike’s thinking and it is a perfect description of our talks to and from Lincoln. In 2017, our pledge class had another reunion and Mike came with Spencer. I am grateful I got to meet one of Mike’s son. Both of his sons, I know, were not just important to him; they were everything to him.
These last four or five years, Mike and I have been in pretty consistent contact on the phone or by email. I loved his positivity. I loved his enthusiasm for life. I loved the fact that although he loved sports and especially Nebraska football, he always wanted to open himself up and talk about deeper things that meant something to him—he wanted to think “hard on things”. Most of all, I loved Mike. I will always miss him.
Posted by Lee Melcher on June 27, 2020
My cousin Mike is older than me but not by more than a set of cloth diapers. I was raised in California, quite a distance in those days from Nebraska. Every year we got a Christmas Letter from my uncle Bud. He was a newspaperman and he was proud of his family, the letter was always filled with the yearly achievements of his children. When Bud’s little sister, my mother Jean, got through reading the letter she would look down at my sister and me and say, “What’s WRONG with you two?”. So it was that my first impression was that my cousin Mike wasn’t starting out making my life any easier.

My first real impression of Mike came when I visited them in North Platte. I had just gotten my license then and Mike let me drive his stick shift alone all around town. Wherever I went people recognized and waved at the car. I felt grand. Mike had firecrackers that summer and he taught me how to launch cans by half filling one with water and nesting another upside down on top to get amazing hydraulic lift. A scientific breakthrough. But, most of all, Mike and I were curious about each other and we were not judgmental. We liked each other straight away.

When I was 26 I moved to Hartford, CT and Mike was out of the service and homesteading in Albany, NY. We got stoned and started anew. We hiked, barbecued, debated, shared pain and joy and raised families. Mike always thought hard on things and had some deeply held beliefs but he was a truth seeker more than a zealot and was willing to agree to disagree until next time. We always parted closer than when we met. And he always had a twinkle in his eye.

I have heard it said that “without death life would be unbearable”. From where l sit at this moment this death came to early. There are arguments unmade, empathy unshared and wisecracks unuttered. And life is a long way from being more bearable. I was angry to lose my friend but now I am sad.
Posted by Gary Lee on June 27, 2020
I first met Mike in Army Basic training at Fort Lewis Washington in 1969. From there we both went to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio Texas for Medical Corpsman training and then on to Vietnam ending up in the same company as combat medics. We went on our first R & R together to Sydney Australia. We both extended our time in Vietnam to get an early Army discharge. So we shared many of the same experiences during our military service. I did stop to see him in Lincoln,Nebraska shortly after our military discharge.
   But regrettably we lost touch with each other until this year, I think it was February when I received a text message from him with his phone number. We visited sharing some stories. He gave me some suggestions on books to read that were more specific to our time and location when we were stationed in Vietnam. In March he sent another text asking for my mailing address because he had found another book very specific to the Laos incursion we were involved with at the end of our time in Vietnam.
   I told him when I received the book and would read It on a trip to Hawaii I was taking. He responded by making some suggestions on what to visit while there. That was in March of this year.
   I share this because I find it ironic we shared so many similar experiences, some very difficult and challenging times together and then lose touch for 50 years. Only then to get reacquainted for a brief time and then suddenly, permanently lose the relationship.

Regards,Gary A. Lee
Posted by John Greenhut on June 27, 2020
Mike and I first met when Chris and I moved to Albany from NYC in the mid 70's. We were introduced by Kathy Kaplan, who sold us our house. Mike knowledge of advertising helped us market our art business in 1976 and continued to help us grow it, well into the 1980's. That relationship grew into a strong friendship as Mike and I both liked college hockey. For over 20 years we shared RPI hockey tickets and the occasional pregame DeFazio pizza. We would also meet almost every month for lunch at My Place in Delmar or The Ships Pub in Loudonville where Mike brought his interest in politics, sports, home repairing, movies and the many interesting things going on in his life to our relationship. With our spouses we enjoyed good restaurant dining throughout the area, museum visits, stage shows, and just plain spending time together. Mike, I will miss you. You helped fill my life. RIP my good friend.
Posted by Jesse Traschen on June 27, 2020
I remember Michael as an incredibly kind and gentle soul, with a sharp intellect and wit. I have such great memories of being with him and Sally at their home. They were both so supportive of me after I retired from a dance career and was fumbling my way through figuring out how to get "a real job"! I appreciated his guidance so much (and Sally's!). I believe the last time I saw Michael was a trip we took to Jacob's Pillow to see Mark Morris. We had lost touch after I moved to Michigan, but I've often thought of him because I fell into work at a marketing communications agency. He was a great man, and I was so sad to learn of his passing. I send lots of love to Sally and the kids. - Jesse
Posted by Suzanne Melcher on June 25, 2020
Mike, my Dad, and I would meet up at the US Open (on what always seemed to be the hottest day of the year) and we would hang out all day watching the tennis matches. I think I liked to go because my Dad and Mike loved to watch the matches. One year, I remember we asked Mike if he wanted us to get him anything for lunch and he said that he had brought his own. He brought out a package of deviled eggs which I thought was a funny choice for a hot day. I'm going to treasure that memory. Mike always had an easy going way about him which I can appreciate even more as I get older. Suzanna Banana
Posted by Rodney Tuenge on June 25, 2020
Mike was a friend of all of us! I can't think of another member of our class of which this can be said. We are all sorry that we didn't stay closer in contact. You have put together a beautiful photo memorial to him! When I think of such a good friend passing, I think of what Helen Keller said, "What we have once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes part of us." 
Posted by Jason Kirkman on June 25, 2020
My father was always there for me. Though he wan't always able to express his love for me and his family in words, he very clearly expressed himself through his actions. Always responsible, true to his word, and the protector and provider for his family, he has served as an excellent model for how to live my life. I am blessed that he took the time to teach me how to ski and fish and play cards and how not to cook and how not to argue. You were a great father and friend and I miss you.

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Lowell Harvey on June 29, 2020
Please accept my deepest sympathies of Mike’s passing.  He indeed had a significant impact on his many friends. Mike and I had many competitive one on one basketball games and tennis matches in high school. He was Mike with his tenacious somewhat unorthodox way of shooting baskets and serving in tennis. He must have carried this tenacious approach to life in all of his endeavors. Mike contacted me this year of which I will cherish my reconnecting with him even if only by phone. 
Lowell Harvey
Posted by Leslie Knauf on June 29, 2020
How very sad I was to learn from Sally of Mike's unexpected passing.

We met in the late 1970s and, in 1979, I had the opportunity to work for Mike at Kirkman 3hree in Delmar for four years. I had wanted to work in advertising and marketing and it was the perfect opportunity to learn about the business, as working at K3 ultimately laid the groundwork for the rest of my career in private, nonprofit and public sector marketing communications.

I always appreciated that I could always call Mike whenever I had a question about some print production issue I was dealing with, or could bring him and his staff a project to help me produce when I eventually became a K3 client. He always made working with him so easy and seamless. What a great introduction those four years at Kirkman 3hree were in the early stages of my career. Most of the credit for that goes to Mike, who was as much a mentor and good friend to me as he was my boss.

It's a testament to him as a kind and supportive friend that we always remained in touch for the ensuing 37 years thereafter, meeting periodically for lunch and catching up on developments in our respective lives, or introducing him and Sally to the latest performing artist who had caught my fancy.

I had fully expected to see Mike for lunch again at some point this year, but, sadly, it wasn't meant to be. I will dearly miss seeing him and enjoying our periodic lunches and our wide-ranging conversations. He truly was one of the "good guys" who held a special place in my professional and personal life - a rare fellow and truly a treasured friend.

I will look forward to seeing Sally, Jason, Spencer and their families, along with mutual friends and colleagues when we are able to gather when circumstances allow to celebrate the very well-lived life of our very dear friend. 
Posted by Tom Lewis on June 29, 2020
Thank you, Jason, Cyrus, and Sera for giving Mike’s friends the opportunity to express their thoughts about and their love for Mike.
I pledged Phi Delta Theta in the fall of 1963 when I was 17 years old. I was embarrassingly shy. Mike was the first person in my pledge class who I met. He was not just friendly; he was extremely open. We became friends immediately. I had trouble meeting people at that time—hey, I still have trouble meeting people—and I am not sure how my first months at the Phi Delt house would have gone had it not been for Mike’s friendship. Today, many of my closest friends are old Phis, so I know that Mike’s friendship at the time was very important to how my life has turned out. Mike and I roomed together in the Phi Delt house our sophomore year and we shared an apartment the second semester of our junior year. 
Through the last 50 years, our communication has been off and on, but each time we have gotten together, either in person, on the phone, or via email, it has been like we talked the day before. 
Twice, I visited and stayed with Mike and Sally in Albany. Once was in 1985, when I visited with my wife, Holly. In 2018, I visited Mike and Sally alone. It was a great four days that I will cherish forever. There were times during the visit when I felt sorry for Sally—a really wonderful lady—because Mike’s and my conversations always somehow reverted to our Vietnam experiences.
Twice Mike came back to Lincoln. The first time--sometime around 2008--my pledge class had a reunion. Mike came back from New York and stayed at my house in Omaha. We drove to Lincoln two days for reunion events. Our talks to and from Lincoln each day were always special to me. One of the other people who left a message on this site said that Mike always “thought hard on things.” Wow! A perfect description of Mike’s thinking and it is a perfect description of our talks to and from Lincoln. In 2017, our pledge class had another reunion and Mike came with Spencer. I am grateful I got to meet one of Mike’s son. Both of his sons, I know, were not just important to him; they were everything to him.
These last four or five years, Mike and I have been in pretty consistent contact on the phone or by email. I loved his positivity. I loved his enthusiasm for life. I loved the fact that although he loved sports and especially Nebraska football, he always wanted to open himself up and talk about deeper things that meant something to him—he wanted to think “hard on things”. Most of all, I loved Mike. I will always miss him.
his Life
Michael E. Kirkman was born in North Platte, NE to James and Edith Mae Kirkman and was the younger of two brothers. His father worked for the North Platte Telegraph, eventually becoming publisher of the paper, and his mother was a homemaker and involved community member who later became active in the PTA at the national level.

The Kirkman’s were a competitive family. Card games were cutthroat, and his parents never took it easy on him, often leaving the young boy in tears. Michael eventually created “gentleman’s rules” for many of these games, which eliminated some of the nastier plays and made it more challenging to win, and he would eventually teach these versions to his children. Michael has always had an acute sense of fair play and sympathy for the underdog. His dad was a competitive tennis player, and Michael eventually became an excellent player as well, but his father never gave him any lessons or tips. The story became that the elder Kirkman didn’t want to give the kid any competitive advantage over him. Nevertheless, Michael was drawn to sports and he excelled.

Michael had a life-long love affair with sports, both as an athlete and a fan. As a teenager, he followed in his father’s footsteps and wrote articles for the school paper as well as the Telegraph, mostly covering local sports. He enjoyed so many things about sporting contests, the unscripted outcomes, the narratives, the numbers, and the infinite variety. Although he participated in multiple sports throughout the seasons, he excelled in tennis and football. Small but scrappy, he was a pit bull of a linebacker, known for his fearless play. Michael was a member of North Platte High’s 1962 undefeated State Champion Football team, of which he was immensely proud. Though his football career ended after his senior season, he continued playing tennis into his sixties.

After graduating from high school, Mike attended the University of Nebraska. He was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity where he cultivated many life-long friendships. He studied business and journalism and worked for a time at the local Lincoln newspaper. While attending college, he married Norma Diedrichs, also of North Platte. Mike did a summer internship in Boston, where his brother Jim lived, and discovered that he enjoyed east coast living.

He was drafted and served in the Vietnam War as a combat field medic from 1969 – 71. He received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. Like many veterans of that war, he had mixed feelings about this service and came out of the experience with both physical and emotional scars, but, ultimately, he was proud of his service and the people he served with.

Soon after moving to Delmar, NY, Michael and Norma bought a home on Adams Place and had two boys, Jason and Spencer. Though they divorced in the early 80’s, Michael shared custody of his children and remained a dedicated and involved father. He met his second wife, Sally Lawrence, and moved into her historic farmhouse in Averill Park, NY where he lived for the rest of his life. Mike was a devoted husband to Sally. They were married 33 years.

In the early 70’s, Mike founded Kirkman 3hree Advertising Agency with his brother, Jim. He soon became the sole proprietor of the company, which remained in business for almost 40 years. The advertising agency evolved with the times, and in later years its primary business was the publication of programs for Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

He was an active community member and supporter of the arts, and he served on the boards of the Albany Symphony Orchestra and Hospitality House. He and Sally enjoyed attending the many seasonal cultural programs that upstate New York and Western Massachusetts had to offer, from modern dance and theater, to opera and ballet.

As his kids grew up, the highlights of their times together included regular winter ski trips and summer camping trips. The ski trips involved lots of lessons and navigating the perilous blue-iced slopes of the NE – high anxiety. Summer trips involved exploring the Adirondacks, Maine and Canada, canoeing, fishing, lobster, and learning about history and the natural world. Many evenings were spent playing cards and enjoying family.

A lover of plants and animals, Mike became an accomplished gardener at his home in Averill Park, and the home gradually transformed into a tropical green house. He enjoyed the discovery and cultivation of exotic plants, a hobby which he had learned from his mother. He and Sally rescued many dogs from the animal shelter. They would name them after alcoholic beverages, and they were devoted to their care.

After decades of armchair traveling, in his later years, Mike became an actual world traveler. He made several trips to the far east, to Mexico, and to Turkey, and loved the planning and learning that these trips involved. At the time of his death, he was in the process of planning a grand trip along the Silk Road, which he had been looking forward to for years.
                                                                                     
His family misses him dearly, but we are proud to have known him and grateful for everything he has done for us, and we will think of him fondly for the rest of our lives.

Recent stories

The Eager Beaver Club

Shared by Milan Wall on June 26, 2020
As a childhood friend of Mike's, I wanted to share a story about Mike's organizational and motivation skills as an elementary school age youngster.  I was a member of the Eager Beaver Club, which Mike founded and led (as president) when we were in grades 6-8, or thereabouts.  The club's main attraction was that we got to spend Saturdays together at the South Platte River, where we (tried to) snare rabbits, call in Sandhill Cranes, and search for other nature-oriented opportunities to pass time in the outdoors.  We spent winter time preparing, and that preparation included studying books on plants and animals, at Mike's direction, so we could be prepared for the summer time trips.  Occasionally, an older brother (as Jim may recall) went along so we could spent the night, cooking a meal over a fire, staying up to hear ghost stories and sleeping in a tent.  One fall we captured a snapping turtle, put it into a bucket of sand and trudged back to Mike's house, where it stayed the winter in the basement.  We all got an urgent call the next spring when Mike's mom discovered the unwelcome house guest and told us to take it back immediately!  Which we did.  Mike and I did not stay connected over the years, except for high school reunions, but I will always treasure the Eager Beavers and his leadership of our merry band.

Mike Kirkman and I

Shared by Bob Brickson on June 25, 2020
I met Mike in my sophomore/Jr. year in college.I just transferred from Colorado State University to Nebraska. I was introduced by some of his Phi Delt friends, many of which I went to high school with at Southeast in Lincoln. we connected immediately and became roommates in the first semester of 1966 at NU With Soupy and Norma. Total rent was $45 a month for a dump on 18th and F. we had a lot of fun. We double dated to a Nebraska game at Boulder one year, in Colorado Springs at air force another.1965 & 1966.
 About 3 Years ago Mike called me. We didn’t miss a beat from our earlier days. I have had many conversations since then that have been extremely valuable. Mike was so intelligent and funny. We were both Vietnam veterans which we talked about a lot. His attitude was always great. My daughter and I spent the hottest day in history at the US open tennis tournament and 2018. We were so fortunate to have Mike as a guide that day, because as you probably know Mike was a big tennis fan. He knew everything about the U.S. Open. Thanks Jason for sending this. 
Please except my sincere and deepest sympathies to Sally & all of the Kirkman’s. I would definitely want to attend a get together for Mike’s honor. He was a great friend. It has been really special to talk to him all the times that I have in the past three years and to see him in New York City