Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Memories of Joe Kirkley by Warren Sparrow

Becky and I went to Joe's funeral. It was void of the pomp and circumstance of some ceremonies. But, it was a moving experience. The McEwen Chapel was filled with those who knew and admired Joe. The tributes to Joe by family and friends prompted me to say something about him.

Joe and I shared an unusual bond. We were born on August 13, 1936. Our paths first crossed at AG when we made the 9th grade varsity basketball team. After practice we walked home together, each night stopping at a neighborhood grocery store for a soft drink. During this period we became good friends. At Central our friendship continued. Our senior year we played on the Central Hi-Y basketball team that won the Carolinas championship tournament played in Albemarle. Bonson Hobson, who was the star of the team, was also at Joe's funeral.

Upon graduation from Central in 1954 we went in different directions. Joe joined the Navy to See the World. I went to NC State to See the Railroad Track. Eight years later we were reunited when I started Wake Forest Law School. Joe was in his second year of law school. Joe passed down to me his law-school text books. My first year at Wake was a depressing one. Had it not been for Joe's encouragement I would have quit. Thanks to Joe I soldiered on.

In the summer of 1965 Joe and his wife Judy and their son Josh came to our home in Winston-Salem. They stayed with my wife and our two children while Joe and I went to Raleigh for the bar exam. We stayed at the Holiday Inn on the north side of Raleigh during the three-day exam. About 10 days after the exam we got the results from the State Board of Law Examiners. We passed. We got those letters on August 13, 1965. It was Friday the 13th, a lucky day indeed. It was the happiest of birthdays for both of us. I shall never forget it. Neither shall I forget the role Joe played in making it so.