December 17th, 2006


A Quaker memoriam

At meeting today it was announced that Bill Kirby had died, and many people were moved to speak about him. Bill's most distinguishing characteristic was that he was blind, but it didn't seem to be much of a restriction to him, even though he was in his early eighties. William Kirby OBE

He was a very tall man, well over 6ft, and always dressed wonderfully - helped by colour coding labels on his clothes - so he made a striking impression when you met him. He had a patience, gentleness and good humour that caused him to be a very rewarding companion. His love of art exhibitions and sculpture coloured his ministries, and his presence in a meeting prompted other speakers to expand beyond mere visual description. Although he was interested in the arts, he was always eager to learn new things, and a Friend spoke of him recently requesting some reading matter about quantum theory.

He was one of those Quakers who seem to embody walk cheerfully, and his sense of humour was good-natured and often directed at himself. At the end of a meeting when he was present we would usually all speak our names aloud so he would know who had been there. After a particularly plague-stricken meeting in winter, he was asked, "Would you like a round of names, Bill?" To which he replied, "No, it's all right, I think I recognised all the coughs."