William 'Ed' Kirk Jr., NSA official, dies

Family members said Kirk contracted polio as a child, but went on to play sports and later managed teams.

William "Ed" Kirk Jr., a retired National Security Administration official, died Monday of complications from pneumonia at Gilchrist Hospice Care of Howard County.

He was 81 and lived in Ellicott City.

Born in Baltimore, he was the son of William E. Kirk Sr., an Edgewood Arsenal civilian employee, and Anne Kirk.

Family members said that as an 11-year-old, he contracted polio, underwent surgeries and spent a year in the Kernan Hospital near Dickeyville.

"For most of his life, he walked with a cane. He overcame this obstacle and many obstacles in his life," said his daughter, Kimberly Hess of Pasadena. "He went on to play basketball and softball. He played until he was 70, and then he managed the teams."

Raised in Edgewood, he was a graduate of the old St. Stephen's School in Bradshaw and earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Baltimore. He also studied electrical engineering at the Johns Hopkins University.

"He had an outgoing personality and was so very friendly," said his daughter. "Nobody was a stranger to him. As a senior executive, he was down to earth and friendly. Even in his top job, he did not wear a tie. He wore cowboy boots and one of his Orioles or Dodgers jackets. He rarely wore a suit to work."

He first came to the NSA in 1958 under an RCA contract for an antenna design. In 1961 he joined the agency, and at the time of his 1995 retirement, he was deputy chief of installation and logistics. Family members said he managed 1,300 people who did facility maintenance, engineering and construction at the Fort Meade facility.

He had previously been deputy director of its Office of Security for 11 years and deputy director of the Office of Contracting for three years.

"He was a mentor to many co-workers and had no problem motivating them," said his daughter. "For all his strengths as an engineer, he was not computer-savvy. He wrote his notes out on yellow legal pads and carried a pack of 3-by-5 note cards."

Mr. Kirk was a charter member NSA's Senior Cryptologic Executive Service. He received his agency's Meritorious Civilian Service Award and the Presidential Rank Meritorious Executive Award.

At one time he held season tickets to the Baltimore Colts, and also cheered for the Orioles — as well as the Dodgers in Brooklyn and later Los Angeles.

He played and coached softball for the Baltimore Beltway Senior Softball League.

"I played ball on the same team with him for 20 years," said Frank Kitzmiller of Dayton in Howard County. "He managed the team for years. Our won-loss record was consistently good. He brought his personality to the team. He was a good manager, and he had a good head on his shoulders."

"Ed was probably one of the best Orioles fans who walked the streets of Baltimore," said Charles Nossick, a friend who lives in Pasadena. "We worked together at the same organization, and he was a great listener. And more importantly, he took action."

Mr. Kirk traveled extensively overseas and also enjoyed visits to Hilton Head Island, S.C.

He was a collector of Chevrolet El Caminos, a car that is part pickup and part sedan.

"He liked having the convenience of the combined car-and-truck thing," said his daughter. "He also liked sporty black cars, including his Jaguar sedan. He never had a station wagon. There were six of us years ago in the family, and at that time he drove a big Chevy Impala Super Sport."

He would spent a portion of weekends washing his vehicles. "He kept his cars in such good shape, people were always asking if his vehicles were for sale," his daughter said.

A Mass of Christian burial will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at St. Paul Catholic Church, 3755 St. Paul St. in Ellicott City, where he was a member.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include his wife of nearly 14 years, Joyce Hainley; two other daughters, Kristina Klockner of Marlboro, N.J. and Kerrie Beth Chamberlain of Birmingham, Ala.; a stepson, Frank Hainley of Laurel; two stepdaughters, Maryann Spekis of Woodlawn and Tracy Miciche of Arnold; a sister, Sharon Dellinger of Nevada; 17 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. His first wife, Elizabeth "Bettye" Howard died in 1999. A daughter, Kandi Kirk, died in 2004.

jkelly@baltsun.com

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