David Carlyle Kirkland, born Feb. 18, 1932, at the Shanley Homestead, Shanley Hill, Hallton, PA, one of three children to Virginia Shanley and Claude Kirkland, passed away Sept. 19, 2013. David married his beloved Frances J. Henry, Nov. 23, 1957, and they have been married for 56 years.
In 1949, he graduated from high school in St. Mary’s, PA, at the age of 17. He missed graduation to move to Washington DC, where he was employed as a fingerprint examiner with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He was proud to have personally met J. Edgar Hoover, when called to his office for an interview. David left the FBI to serve four years in the United States Navy during the Korean War. After his military service, he was employed as a machinist in St. Mary’s, before becoming a Game Protector with the Pennsylvania Game Commission. In 1958, he was a member of the ninth graduating class at the Ross Leffler School of Conservation. During his 10 years as a game warden, he chased “jack lighters,” was a trapper and an ardent proponent of wildlife.
In 1967, Mr. Kirkland became a Special Agent with the Department of Interior, United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). He was stationed in New Jersey, Delaware, New York, Colorado, Missouri, Washington DC and Pennsylvania. David did numerous banding assignments in Canada and was recognized as an expert ornithologist. During his last 10 years with the USFWS, he was assigned to the Special Operations Division and conducted extensive under- cover operations along the eastern seaboard, Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas, Alaska, Montana and other states.
His work took him throughout the United States and his family shared in his adventures. He was always drawn back to the family farm on Shanley Hill and religiously brought his family home every year to spend summers at the cabin and farm. In 1976, he moved the family back to the Village of Hallton. In 1992, the Kirklands moved onto the farm, where relatives had resided since the mid 1840s, and with the help of family and friends, built a post and beam house out of rough hemlock and larch logs. Their house was always open to friends and family with a continuous stream of visitors. The gatherings were so extensive and of such duration that one morning David woke up and asked Franny, “Who are all these people?”
He loved to farm with his brother, family and many friends. They raised beef cattle, built ponds, grew corn and potatoes and made hay, always managing the farm with wildlife habitat in mind.
In 1987, he retired from the USFWS, and he and Franny traveled extensively with their pickup and camper throughout the United States, as far as Alaska. He and his wife enjoyed being campground hosts for the Forest Service in Wyoming, Arizona and Georgia. David was a passionate fly-fisherman and planned their trips around premier trout rivers and streams. In retirement, he put his carpentry skills to use to help his children with numerous projects to include building a guesthouse and barn. He raised four children and his main goal was that they obtain college degrees, which they all did. He was very proud of his children, a forester, a schoolteacher, a DEA agent and an FBI agent.
Mr. Kirkland attended Penn State University and the University of Delaware. David was a lifelong member of the Hallton Church of Christ. He was a voracious reader, carved decoys, bred and trained hunting dogs, was a skilled carpenter and enjoyed hunting and the outdoors immensely. He was a devoted Penn State fan and enjoyed attending football games with family and friends since 1978.
David was preceded in death by his mother and father, Virginia and Claude Kirkland, a brother, Albert Kirkland and a nephew, Brian Kirkland.
Survivors include his four children, Mary (Sam) Baker of Williamsport, Fawn (Douglas) McMackin of St. Mary’s, Joe (Brenda) Kirkland and Annie Kirkland and Ralph Nekuza. He is also survived by 10 grandchildren, Zachary Snavely, Shaylea McCray, Meghan Snavely, Celia Kirkland, Kristin McMackin, Maren Kirkland, Colter Kirkland, Wallace (Heather) Baker, Micah (Melissa) Baker and Katie (Brian) Lowry; seven great-grandchildren; a sister, Janice (Jack) Sain of Brookville and numerous nieces and nephew including three who played a large part in his life: Arlene (Barry) Reinard, Kimberly Sain and Kirk (Stephanie) Kirkland.
Big Dave and Franny had so many friends who mean so very much to them, it is impossible to list them all.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the WCO David L. Grove Scholarship Fund, Conservations Officer of Pennsylvania Association, 100 Nature Way, Milroy, PA 17063, (WCO Grove was killed in the line of duty in 2010), and to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, 5705 Grant Creek, Missoula, MT 59808, telephone: (406) 523-4500.