Roy Eugene “Gene” Kirk was born June 2, 1951, in Fairfax, Missouri, to J.C. and Betty (Patton) Kirk. Gene passed away at Grape Community Hospital on January 5, 2022, following a courageous battle with bladder and brain cancer.
They lived in Phelps, Missouri, later moving to the rural Hamburg area.
He attended Marnie Simons grade school in Hamburg and graduated from Rock Port High School in 1969. He proudly served in the U.S. Army from 1976-1979 as an illustrator. One of his memorable Army assignments was to create a float for the Sugar Bowl parade.
Gene was a member of Hubert Woodward Post #156. He and his brother Joe loved assisting with military graveside services around the county. Gene was strongly committed to marching in the Hamburg Popcorn Day parade as color guard. He was a member of the Nishna Valley Saddle Club. His family of three daughters enjoyed trail riding and showing horses for many years. Gene even went to Texas to learn horseshoeing.
In the early days Gene was employed at Eaton Corporation, the Farragut Elevator and as a Farragut school bus driver. The majority of Gene’s life, he was self-employed as a commercial artist, operating “Signed by Gene.” He was a completely self-taught artist with natural ability. During high school, Gene used to draw the contest pictures found in Reader’s Digest. He sent them in and was offered a job at Disney. Gene would describe himself as a “sign artist,” but was well-known throughout Southwest Iowa for his painting of murals, mascots and signage in school buildings and storefronts. His favorite part of his job was the pin-striping and lettering of cars and trucks. He got his start by creating t-shirts and sweatshirts for friends when he was in junior high, at first with magic markers, then advancing to an air brush. For several years he had a booth at the Sidney Rodeo, where he created custom shirts while customers waited. His “Big Daddy Roth” style shirts were very popular. One of his most visible projects is the huge American flag on the side of the Manildra Building in Hamburg.
Gene, often called “Geno,” enjoyed life, laughing and making people laugh. He was never in too big of a hurry to stop, talk and share a cup of coffee. He especially enjoyed time with his grandsons, and the neighbor boys, Luke and Zane. He loved going to an annual car swap meet in Springfield, Missouri, for the past 23 years with his cousin, Roger Perry. He was very proud of his old fully restored panel truck, with “Rat Fink” license plates. He also enjoyed team bowling and playing the banjo. He loved animals, especially their cats, dogs, horses and mules.
He was preceded in death by his parents; grandparents, Guy and Willie Kirk and Jesse and Rachael Patton; brother, Jimmie; and great-nephew, Bennett Kirk. He is survived by wife, Joan (Miller) Kirk; daughter, Wendi Stenzel of Shenandoah, Iowa; grandsons, Matthew (Olivia), Jake, and Nathan Stenzel; step-daughters, Amy Farmer (Kyle) of Lee’s Summit, Missouri; grandsons, Marc and Cade Gustafson, and Kary Jones (Greg) of Bennington, Nebraska; grandsons, Zack and Gage Koso; brother, Joe Kirk (Lana Brandt) of Hamburg, Iowa; sister, Dink Hargrave (Gary) of St. Joseph, Missouri; nephews, B.J. (Audra) Kirk, Jeff Hargrave, and Gabe (Rachael) Hargrave; niece, Jeri (Robert) Douglas; great-nephews, Dylan Kirk and Zach Bean; aunts, Elsie Foster and Rosie (Hooter) McConnell; uncle, Ronnie Hart; and numerous cousins.
Memorials may be directed to Hubert Woodward Post #156 and a memorial art scholarship fund to be established. Visitation will be Wednesday, January 12, 2022, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. at Rash-Gude Funeral Home, Hamburg. A memorial service will be held Thursday, January 13, 2022, at 10:30 a.m. at Rash-Gude Funeral Home. Rash-Gude Funeral Home in Hamburg is in charge of arrangements.