On Thursday, March 23, WWII veteran and long-time St. Paul resident Gordon Kirk joined the exclusive demographic known as centenarians, celebrating his 100th birthday with a little help from family and friends. A little over 100 people gathered at the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center in St. Paul in the early afternoon for a birthday party in Kirk’s honor. The event was organized by the Hallie Q. Brown Men’s Retirement Club.
“I still feel like a young man. I don’t feel like I’m 100,” Kirk told the MSR. “I don’t do anything special. I do eat a big breakfast every day, but no special diet because I eat everything you put on the table.”
Known for his love of community and advocacy work with Minnesota veterans, Kirk first served in the army under General Patton’s Vanguard as a quartermaster during a time when U.S. troops were segregated. After the war he returned home and joined the Twin Star VFW Post 8854, becoming a life member in 1964.
From 1995 to 1996 Kirk became the first African American to be elected as state watch commander of the Minnesota Department of VFW. Currently, he still works as an advocate for veterans at the VA Hospital. Asked how much longer he would continue to advocate for veterans, Kirk said, “Until the day I die.”
The celebration was upbeat and filled with laughter, lots of refreshments, and live music provided by Pat Lacey of the Sounds of Blackness, who performed the song “Wind Beneath My Wings.” After the song, Governor Tim Walz was introduced.
“We are all better for knowing ‘Gordy’ Kirk and better for knowing what he means to this community,” said the governor. “It’s a real privilege to be here with you today, Gordy,” added Walz, who presented Kirk with a State of Minnesota proclamation declaring: “Now therefore, I, Tim Walz, Governor of Minnesota do hereby claim Thursday, March 23rd, 2023, Gordon Kirk Day throughout the State of Minnesota.”
The governor was followed by St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, who offered the centenarian birthday wishes and issued a city proclamation. Also in attendance were other life members of the VFWs in Minnesota.
Gordy married the love of his life Gwendolyn on April 25, 1958. “Unfortunately, Gwendolyn passed on 15 years ago,” said Kirk. Their marriage produced three children, nine grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, and 20 great-great-grandchildren. Gordon Jr., Gordon III, and one-month-old Gordon IV were there as well.
The event closed with prayer led by Kirk’s pastor, Grant Abbott, who shares the same birthday as Gordon Kirk.