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Steven Kirby, 60, Remembered as a Community Friend With a Giving Heart

Kirby was full of joy and community activism while battling disabilities during his life.

was known for riding around Clawson on his tricycle, making friends with everyone and collecting money for charities.

He was a well-known, likable guy who battled mental and physical disabilities for most of his life. 

"Steve's life was just about being a good person and doing good work," said his mother, Gwendolyn Kirby, 83, who was known in the community as "Steve's mom."

Steve Kirby, 60, died of natural causes Sunday at Botsford Hospital in Farmington Hills. He had been living at a Jewish Association for Residential Care home in Farmington Hills. 

The family moved to Clawson from Ohio in 1966, his mother said. While growing up, Kirby attended schools in south Oakland County with special needs programs. At the age of 26, he had finished school, and his mother decided to let him live at area group homes, including in Clawson for about three years.

"It allowed him to get away from his mother," she said. "People grow up, and they are supposed to live away from their mother."

Serving the community

Despite moving around to several group homes in his lifetime, Kirby always made his way back to Clawson. Even if it was just visiting for a day or so, he enjoyed being a part of the community.

Kirby was an honorary Clawson Lions Club member, an honorary Clawson Mavericks assistant coach and a friend of the Clawson Police Department. He collected hundreds of dollars for Lions Club charities and often took a shuttle bus to meetings.

"He was never depressed," said Lions Club member Howie Airriess, who met Kirby in the 1970s. "He was just a wonderful individual."

Lions Club member Greg Kucera Jr. agreed.

"It was amazing how cheerful he was all the time," Kucera said.

Gwendolyn Kirby said her son went through several tricycles in his lifetime. He rode a tricycle around town, stopping at the , , and various churches. He was best known for riding his tricycle in the Clawson Fourth of July Parade and was the parade's grand marshall in 2009.

"He was a real part of this community, and the community accepted and helped him," his mother said. 

Clawson Police Officer Bob Schreiber said Kirby often rode his bike inside to speak to the officers at the records desk.

"He loved us, we loved him," Schreiber said. "He was always smiling."

Kirby enjoyed going to zoos, art museums and United Street Machine Association car shows. He also collected money for muscular dystrophy.

Challenges late in life

The last 10-15 years of Kirby's life were challenging. He suffered minor and a massive strokes, underwent spinal surgery and was in a wheelchair.

The hardships didn't steal his joy.

Gwendolyn Kirby said she walked her son around town in his wheelchair so he could visit friends. And he was still the same outgoing guy, speaking to everyone he encountered.

Those who knew Kirby say he will truly be missed in the Clawson community.

"He died very peacefully," his mother said. "It was just his time to go. He had lived a very full life and had helped many people."

In addition to his mother, Kirby is survived by brother Arthur L. (Mary) Kirby III, sister Sally (Mike) Lozano and several nieces and nephews.   

Memorial gatherings are from 5-9 p.m. Thursday and 2-9 p.m. Friday at . The memorial service is at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 5500 N. Adams Rd. in Troy.

Ken Case January 19, 2012 at 12:30 PM
RIP Steve! Clawson, the little city, lost a part of it's big heart. You will be missed!
carrie chambers January 19, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Thank you for this article, Steve's contagious smile will be missed. Truely a beautiful person that made a difference in Ctown.
Beth Montalvo January 19, 2012 at 02:15 PM
What a beautiful, joy-filled memorial! Thank you!
Melissa Kolf January 19, 2012 at 06:24 PM
As a young girl growing up in Clawson, I noticed that Steve always had a smile and a warm "hello" for all. That's what I will remember him for. Rest in peace.
Jill Lanham January 19, 2012 at 11:16 PM
The parade (and Clawson) will not be the same without "Stevie" - I bet he's already riding around Heaven on new shiny tricycle.
Karin Vance Jackson January 20, 2012 at 12:15 AM
I remember as a girl in elementary and junior high school, Steve would often stop by our house to hang out with my two older brothers, Bill and Rick. He was truly a fixture of Clawson and will be missed by so many,
Joseph Boledovich January 20, 2012 at 01:26 AM
Rest in Peace Stevie!
Sandy Altherr January 20, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Steve was such a beloved part of Clawson, known by so many and a true fixture in Clawson. I posted the news about Steve's death on my Facebook page and had over 52 comments from friends who were mourning "Stevie" also. The 4th of July won't be the same but I am glad to hear that he went peacefully. Steve's mother should be extremely proud of the wonderful heart and soul that her son had for our little town and its people
Lisa Fowler January 21, 2012 at 06:17 AM
You brought smiles to the faces of everyone you met along the way. Rest in peace Steve. You will be truly missed!

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