William King Kirkendale passed away peacefully at the University of California Irvine Medical Center Hospital on Wednesday April 8, 2015. He was to turn 78 years old on April 19th. His loving wife, Linda Ward Kirkendale was at his side as Bill’s soul and spirit went with God.
Bill Kirkendale was larger than life. He was a perpetual (and habitual) optimist, a passionate fighter for right and justice; the proprietor of the Kirkendale wit, humor, and charm; an endearing and loving husband, ex-husband, father, step-father, brother, brother-in-law, uncle, father-in-law, poppy, dad, grandpa, friend, and leader to so many. He remains in the hearts of everyone his huge earthly presence has touched.
Born in 1937 to William Arthur and Rosalie King Kirkendale, ‘Billy Kirkendale’ grew up with his sister Sally Jean Kirkendale in Douglaston, Long Island, New York where in his youth, Billy was a very active and gregarious boy. He was an athlete, fisherman, and automobile enthusiast. He played organized baseball, football, basketball, soccer, tennis, and golf. Two of his proudest childhood accomplishments were being named MVP for his 14/15 youth ‘Beavers’ baseball team and winning the junior tennis championship at Douglaston Manor Country Club.
Billy once caught a fish as tall as he, and he drove a 1950s Ford convertible which he ‘souped up’ himself with a powerful Cadillac engine and solenoid popping handle-less doors. The ‘Fordillac’ was known to everyone on the north shore of Queens – the prototypical 1950s hot rod. Think the slicked back DA haircut, pack of cigarettes rolled up in a white t-shirt sleeve, the movie ‘American Graffiti’ and you’ll have a glimpse of Billy Kirkendale the teenager. He was an avid Yankees and Mickey Mantle fan throughout his childhood and throughout and beyond the Yankees 13 world series appearances during his youth.
Bill attended PS 98 in New York in Kindergarten through 8th grade. He went on to Bayside High School and graduated from the Trinity School in Manhattan before attending Hope College in Michigan. He met his first wife, Bonnie Holmes Kirkendale in Bayside and they were married in Boca Raton FL on December 22, 1958. Together, Bonnie and Bill brought their three children up through their own very active, adventurous, athletic, musical, and enjoyable young childhoods living in Roslyn and Glen Cove. Bill and his children later moved to Dix Hills, and then Old Westbury on Long Island. Bill’s proud and loving children – Billy (now 55), Bobby (54), and Tammy (50) and their Mother Bonnie were at his side the week prior to his passing.
In 1979, Bill and Linda Brush welcomed their daughter Lee-Ann to the world. Bill adored and doted on his daughter throughout her young childhood and Lee-Ann adored her father during that time.
Bill met Linda Ward in 1992, they were married in 1994, and in 2002 they were blessed with the arrival of Ariel (now 20), Kayla (18), Patrick (16), and Celestia (13) providing them a stable and loving home and childhood. At the age of 65, ‘Poppy’ could not have been more happy and in his element to journey and experience again the joy of raising children.
Bill’s step daughter Summer, step son Michael, his grandchildren Mitchell, Billy, Sydney, Chris, Natalie Rose, Carly, Dylan, Ava, his son in law Chat, brothers in law Alan and Dennis, and nieces and nephews Bonnie, Kathi, Don, Tammy, and Alan Jr. will all remain here connected to his spirit.
Bill Kirkendale was a successful businessman, a champion of civil rights and justice, and a leader and innovator who was often way ahead of his time.
In the mid 1970s, Bill was President of the Nassau County Chapter of the Easter Seal Society and board member and active contributor to the Human Resources Center for the Disabled (now the Henry Viscardi School) in Albertson, NY.
He was a member of, and avid 10 handicap golfer at, Nassau Country Club for many years and in 1979, after moving to Hempstead Country Club, Bill sponsored a minority friend and business associate for membership. His friend was denied. Bill then formally proposed and requested of the board that the club’s voting policy and discriminatory practices be reevaluted. He pleaded that these policies of a club whose members included judges, politicians, and prominent businessmen, be changed. Upon doing so, his membership was promptly terminated. Throughout the latter part of 1979, several articles were written about his campaign in Newsday, the New York Daily News, and the New York Times. Many letters were exchanged with top New York and US business, religious, political leaders and others supporting Bill’s charge to eradicate predjudice and discrimination in private clubs.
Almost ten years later, Bill wrote then Senator and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Joseph Biden, to request that then Supreme Court nominee Anthony Kennedy’s prior memberships in private clubs with discriminatory track records be scrutinized. Then Senator (and now Vice President of the United States) Biden’s letter to Bill in response, is included in a compilation of the articles and letters found here; among which are letters from US Senators Jacob Javitz, Charles Mathias, and Edward Kennedy
Other causes that Bill advocated for were Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) awareness, Family Court reform, and against FICO credit scoring discrimination.
Along these and other passionate paths for justice, Bill personally corresponded, supported, and counseled hundreds of affected people from across the country and from all walks of life though thousands of letters, email, and calls.
Bill was a Lieutenant in the US Army and later went on to become a successful businessman in the Insurance Industry beginning his career with Equitable Life in the early 1960s. In 1976, after many years with Equitable and Penn Mutual Life, Bill was appointed General Agent of one of the the largest offices (New York City) for one of the world’s leading Mutual life insurance companies at the time, State Mutual Life. A desire for warmer pastures then led him to a transfer with State Mutual to their Phoenix office in 1980, after which, Bill branched out on his own to form and become President of Insurance Companies of America (ICA).
Bill later moved he, his second wife, and daughter of their marriage further west to Palos Verdes CA, establishing ICA in Torrance, CA for many years. He had a brief stint as a restauranteur in Palm Desert, owning and operating three restaurants before returning to re-apply his expertise and business knack for financial products – in insurance and later as a very successful mortgage broker in Ranch Santa Margarita CA.
Bill married the beautiful, intelligent, and courageous Linda Ward at the awe-inspiring Wayfarers Chapel in Palos Verdes, CA on New Years Eve, 1994. For the next 20+ years Bill and Linda became the closest and best of friends. ‘Poppy’ and ‘Nonny’ have committed their lives to raising their beautiful and gifted children together. Bill was an amazing, fun, adoring, and dedicated father and grandfather to all of his children and to their children.
It is a very difficult time for all of us who have been so blessed to have had Bill Kirkendale in our lives physically, and to accept that he will be no more. His life was a full life, an enriched life, a life to be admired, to be cherished, to be revered, and one to live on through the lives of all of us who knew him. Bill recently wrote a memoir entitled ‘Born Lucky’. He made his own luck throughout his life with his generosity of will, perserverance, passion, compassion and caring for all – and especially for those less fortunate. We may all now go on with our lives and call ourselves so very born lucky to have loved and experienced the one and only Bill Kirkendale.
Rest in Peace
A memorial service will be held on Thursday April 16th at 12 noon at O’Connor Mortuary, 25301 Alicia Parkway, Laguna Hills CA and interment will follow at 2pm at El Toro Memorial Park, 25751 Trabuco Rd. Lake Forest CA
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Henry Viscardi School, 201 I.U. Willets Road, Albertson, New York 11507.