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Fund Spotlight: Kirk Music & Education Fund

A family legacy of education, music, and performance is remembered with the Kirk Music & Education Scholarship Fund. The scholarship was established by Cathy Fox, in memory of her parents John & Gladys Kirk.

Gladys was a teacher in one room schools and it was her goal to have a Bachelor’s degree before her own children did, which she accomplished. She always said she enjoyed watching youngsters catch on to the idea of reading, knowing that it would open the world of learning to them.

John met many community members as he delivered their mail literally through snow, sleet, and rain on rural routes stretching from Stony Lake to Ferry.  He retired from the post office with 25+ years of service, but he never retired from his connection with people.  His love of music began as a student at Muskegon High School playing trumpet in the school band.  He served proudly as a Marine during WWII. Having found his bride in Shelby, he became a member of the community participating in Memorial Day ceremonies, first playing taps on his coronet and later as emcee.  Joining the Congregational Church, he was the first to organize a youth group incorporating dances and music into their activities.  He was blessed with a beautiful tenor voice and was asked to sing at many events and did so with pleasure.

Their legacy carries on with the many contributions of Cathy’s brother, Tom Kirk, a long-time English and theater instructor at Hart Public Schools and also the Hart Performing Art Series founder. Now in its 20th year, Tom established the Community Series to not only bring quality music to Oceana County, but to also expose area students to art from around the world. Additionally, Tom worked with Shelby Grad and Julliard-trained director, Kirsten Kelly, to develop the Oceana Summer Youth Theater program that still operates today. Many Oceana youth moved on from this program to perform in college or community musical and theater productions and some to careers in the industry.

When the scholarship was first established in 2007, finding candidates interested in pursuing careers in the arts was more difficult. Today, students and families better understand the career options and pathways due to the impacts of these community programs and the many artists that have shared their talents. We are reminded that we all have the opportunity to impact the future by sharing our stories today.

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