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Wilbur ‘Will’ Kirkwood Passes

Published: March 21, 2019 1:09 pm ET

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Standardbred horseman Wilbur D. Kirkwood, 86, of Townsend, Delaware, passed away peacefully on Monday, March 18, 2019.

Kirkwood – or ‘Will,’ as he preferred to be called – was born on August 15, 1932 in Bel Air, Maryland. He graduated from Dublin School in 1949 and enlisted in the Navy in 1951. He served aboard the Midway Ship, which is now docked and a museum in San Diego. After an honourable discharge from the Navy in 1954, Kirkwood moved to Delaware where he worked at Delaware Power and Light at the Edgemoor and Delaware City power plants for 12 years. He sold insurance for Mass Mutual and Sun Life and worked in real estate with Nick Gentile. Never wanting to be bored with life, Kirkwood began training and driving harness horses in the early 1970s, racing at Dover Downs as well as Harrington, Ocean City, Rosecroft, and Liberty Bell Raceways.

For 10 years, Kirkwood worked for St. Andrew’s School teaching students how to build sets for school productions. He found his greatest joy working on the family horse farm, Wilchar Farm.

Throughout his life, Kirkwood was a tireless and selfless volunteer in many organizations. He was the president of the Middletown Jaycees and served as the Delaware State president. During his term as state president in 1968, he led the Delaware Jaycees to fifth in the nation. In 1972, he founded the Middletown Chamber of Commerce and served as the charter president for many years. The chamber honours him each year by awarding a deserving member the Will Kirkwood President’s Award.

During the 1970s and ‘80s, Kirkwood was very active in the Middletown Pony Club where his daughters rode and showed horses. He helped organize and announce horse shows and helped with building jumps and fences for riding competitions.

As a longtime member of the Middletown-Odessa-Townsend Rotary Club, Kirkwood served as the president from 1979-1980 and held many other roles within the organization. He was a member of the Sergeant William Lloyd Nelson VFW Post 3792 and served as Quartermaster and then Commander for six years.

In the early 1990s, Kirkwood joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary and served as Flotilla Captain. He served as a board member for many years for the MOT Senior Center and the Everett Theatre. He was very active in ACT, Inc., which was the group responsible for revitalizing the theater in the early 1980s.

Kirkwood served as the master of ceremonies for many groups and shared his humour with everyone. As a horseman, he was a member of the United States Trotting Association.

Kirkwood is survived by his loving wife of 54 years, Charlotte J. Kirkwood; his children, Sharon (Bob) Wyatt, Stephanie (Doug) Wright, and Rene’ Nolan; his grandchildren, Sharon (Ramon), Amy (Drew) Lyndsey (Nate), Alison (Chris), Samantha, Sara, Jena, and Zach; his great-grandchildren, Alex, Matthew, Weston, Cody, and Paxton; and his brother, Edwin L. Kirkwood, Jr. He was preceded in death by his parents Edwin L. and Estelle M. Kirkwood, his sister Laura Jane Morone, and his daughter Natalie.

Known as a devoted family man, Kirkwood was known as a man with a strong sense of humour. He loved taking long driving trips with Charlotte and Natalie. He never met a stranger.

Visitation will be Friday (March 22) from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Daniels & Hutchison Funeral Home, 212 North Broad Street, Middletown, DE. A service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday (March 23) at the funeral home. Burial will follow in Massey, MD.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made in remembrance of Mr. Kirkwood’s daughter Natalie to Easterseals, Camp Fairlee Manor, 61 Corporate Circle, New Castle, DE, 19720.

Please join Standardbred Canada in offering condolences to the family and friends of Will Kirkwood.

(USTA)


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