Kelly Kirk is a two-time SCCC graduate. Perhaps this reflects a characteristic that’s high value in firefighters, because you want a person looking out for you who is willing to return and confirm until everything is right.
When Kelly graduated from LHS in 1985, “SCCC was an obvious choice for me,” he recalled. “I had been working at Otasco and KSCB Radio through high school. And to be able to live at home and keep working while starting college right here in Liberal was a no-brainer.” He graduated SCCC with an A.S. in pre-engineering in 1987 and transferred to Kansas State to study Mechanical Engineering. He soon realized he was “headed down the wrong career path,” and came home more than a little despondent to regroup. He returned to work at KSCB Radio full-time and re-enrolled at SCCC.
Take two: In 1989, Kirk earned an A.A. in Business Management. He looks back on his time at SCCC as a period when he was able to mature, explore multiple career paths inexpensively “and quite honestly, receive some of the best educational experiences of my life to date (Lee Courtney for U.S. government, and Bill Bolton for chemistry).”
Take three: Kirk’s career path ended up “not following any of my best-laid plans” he wrote, and there are many folks in Liberal and area who are quite honestly very grateful. He joined the Seward County Fire Department as a volunteer in 1990, went to the Liberal Fire Department as Firefighter / EMT in 1991 and became Fire Chief in 2008.
“After over 28 years with the department, I believe it has been the most rewarding and honorable career I could have possibly chosen right here in my own hometown,“ he wrote.
“I guess in the ‘big picture’ I probably could have traveled far and wide and accomplished all of the things I’ve done here just about anywhere. But quite honestly I’ve found all I need and more than I deserve right here in Liberal. I’ve been educated, married and raised a beautiful family and had a long and fulfilling career of service to my community … right here at home. I don’t know that I aspire to achieve more.”
Kirk is being modest. He is a 1998 graduate of Leadership Liberal (LEAD). A 2009 graduate of the University of Kansas Certified Public Management Program. An active member of Liberal Early Risers Kiwanis, the Liberal BeeJays Board of Directors, board member of the Liberal Elks Lodge, hosted SCCC baseball players.
He maintains that his greatest accomplishment in life was meeting his wife of more than 28 years, Christy (at SCCC), and raising “three beautiful daughters Alyssa, Nicole & Kaitlyn, all of whom attended SCCC.” For the Kirks, family time was usually community service time, with the belief that “if we wanted Liberal to be a wonderful place to raise a family we needed to take a hand in making it so,” Kelly said.
Kirk expressed deep gratitude to parents Judy and Donald Kirk. “They raised my two brothers and me in a steady loving home. And they have supported me and loved me unconditionally all my life. I would not be where I am today without all they gave and still give to me and my family.”