Henry Kirkman
Henry Kirkman


JUN 3. 07:00 PM - 09:00 PM Walker's Funeral Home of Chapel Hill 120 W. Franklin St. Chapel Hill, NC, US, 27516 walkersfh@aol.com http://www.walkersfuneralservice.com

Funeral Service

JUN 4. 11:00 AM Aldersgate UMC 632 Laurel Hill Rd. Chapel Hill, NC, US, 27514


Chapel Hill Memorial Cemetery 1724 Legion Rd Chapel Hill, NC, 27514

Obituary of Henry Neil Kirkman

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Henry Neil Kirkman, Jr., M.D. (Sept. 14, 1927 to May 29, 2013) CHAPEL HILL Dr. Henry Neil Kirkman, Jr., beloved husband, father and grandfather, passed away Wednesday following a lengthy battle with cardio-vascular disease. Dr. Kirkman was a Kenan Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. He chaired the Division of Genetics and Metabolism of the School's Department of Pediatrics from 1965 to 1991. Upon his arrival at UNC, he quickly became known for his skill in diagnosing and treating illnesses in infants, his expertise in inborn errors of metabolism, and his research into treatable genetic diseases in newborns. Dr. Kirkman was instrumental in making North Carolina's newborn screening program one of the finest in the world. That program was established to spot and immediately address treatable genetic diseases in newborns, such as "PKU" (phenylketonuria), before they caused the infants to suffer severe brain damage. Identifying babies with such diseases and closely monitoring their treatment until they developed into bright, healthy adults was the aspect of Dr. Kirkman's career that brought him the most joy and satisfaction. Dr. Kirkman, also known as Neil, was the son of Henry Neil Kirkman, Sr. and Louise Pruitt Kirkman. Born in Jacksonville, FL in 1927, he received a B.S. degree in chemistry from Georgia Tech at age 19, a Master's Degree in physics from Emory a year later, and his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1952. He served in the U.S. Air Force as a flight surgeon at the end of the Korean War. Neil and Margaret Lamar Yancey of Atlanta were married in 1950. They had four children. For the past half-century, he and Margaret were active members of Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill and dedicated world travelers. Neil was a runner most of his life, an amateur astronomer, a lover of classical music, and a loyal fan of the UNC Tar Heels, except when they played Georgia Tech, whereupon he would say, "I just hope neither team embarrasses the other." An early devotee of personal computers, Neil imparted his love for computing to grandsons Evan and Jacob when they were preschoolers. Both are now accomplished software engineers. Neil's skills as a teacher drew praise from medical students. Dr. Francis Collins, who became the Director of the Human Genome Project and now serves as the Director of the National Institutes of Health, states that one of Neil's UNC med school lectures inspired him to pursue a career in medical genetics. Neil authored or co-authored over 90 articles and reviews in prominent medical or scientific research journals. He served on several National Institutes of Health study sections and training committees, chairing its Genetics Study Section from 1975 to 1978. His many accomplishments as a laboratory researcher were tied closely to his skills and dedication as a clinician. A recent Facebook message from UNC medical colleague Dr. Ernie Kraybill captured well the fruits of Neil's career. It described a conversation their colleague, Dr. Bill Hubbard, just had with a man on a fishing pier at the coast. Upon learning where Hubbard worked, the man stated that his grandson was diagnosed with PKU at birth, then treated and monitored by Neil and his UNC colleagues until he graduated at the top of his high school class. The grandson was attending Wake Forest University on an academic scholarship. Neil's beloved wife of 63 years, Margaret Kirkman, passed away in February. He is survived by his children, Alice L. Kirkman of Rockville, Maryland, David Neil Kirkman and wife Debra Skinner of Chapel Hill, Dr. Marian Sue Kirkman and husband John Krall of Pittsboro, Celia Kirkman of Chapel Hill, and by granddaughter Victoria Kirkman of Rockville, Maryland, grandson Jacob Krall and wife Jennifer Wing Krall of Indianapolis, and grandson Evan Krall of San Francisco. The family thanks the dedicated nursing, physical therapy and other medical professionals of The Cedars of Chapel Hill for enabling Neil to live all but his final few weeks in his own home. The family will receive visitors Monday, June 3 from 7-9 p.m. at Walker's Funeral Service of Chapel Hill. A celebration of Neil's life will be held at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill on Tuesday, June 4 at 11:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, Neil would be happy to know that contributions in his name were made to Aldersgate United Methodist Church (Chapel Hill) or NC Children's Hospital (www.ncchildrenspromise.org). Online condolences may be sent to: www.walkersfuneralservice.com Walker's Funeral Home is honored to serve the Kirkman family.
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