John Wallace “Wally” Kirby passed away peacefully on September 1st, 2021, just two days short of his 86th birthday at St. Thomas More Progressive Care Center in Cañon City.
He was born in Pueblo, CO to his beloved parents, John and Clara LaVerna Kirby on September 3, 1935. Wally contracted polio at the age of 6 and credits his mother for encouraging him to persevere and not let his physical disability interfere with his future accomplishments. Wally attended St. Leander Catholic School until his father was transferred to Trinidad, CO where he attended Most Holy Trinity Catholic School in 7th & 8th grade. Wally developed a love for music early in his childhood and learned to play both the piano and violin when he was 12 years old. When his family moved once again to Denver, CO, Wally transferred to St. Regis High School where he graduated in 1952. While in high school he loved to play the pipe organ located in the chapel on the school campus. As a teenager, he loved to visit the old Lakeside Amusement Park in Denver and ride the train that went around the entire lake. Wally loved trains! Later in life as an adult, he would tell his friends that if he could walk better, he would have become a train conductor. After he graduated from high school, Wally entered the Juilliard School performing arts conservatory in New York City to study music. He later returned to Denver and continued his studies at St. Regis College where he earned a degree in Mathematics.
After completing his college education, Wally had a long and successful career working for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) as an engineer. During the 1970s and 80s, he loved to travel. Some of his favorite trips were to Ireland, touring Europe with his mother, Clara, and traveling to the Tarahumara High Hills in Mexico where he explored the legendary Copper Canyon.
In 1994 Wally had a new home built and moved to Cañon City. After moving here, he also traveled back to New York where he met with officials at the Steinway Piano Company to have a new piano designed and built especially for him.
He enjoyed telling his friends the story of how the grand piano was delivered in large sections and was assembled in his living room. Wally was an active member of the Cañon City Music Club where he performed recitals on both the organ and piano and hosted many of their meetings in his home. He also taught organ and piano lessons privately to many students. His favorite pastimes were listening to classical music, driving to Denver to see the symphony orchestra perform in concert, and going on long (and fast!) car drives throughout Southern Colorado.
Wally was a devoted parishioner at St. Michael Catholic Church. He was active in music ministry as a piano accompanist for Saturday evening Masses and Children’s Choir. He also ministered music on organ and piano for Masses at the Holy Cross Abbey with friends Christine McFedries, Aubrey, and Linda Kramer for many years and would often join them afterward for his favorite home-cooked meal of spaghetti and meatballs until the chapel closed in 2006. He now joins his parents and departed friend, Alice Weber to be with his Lord in heaven. He is survived by his friends Warren Weber, Joe “Bud” and Don Blakemore, and his best friend Manny Sosa, who were like his family to him. He will also be greatly missed by his St. Michael family.
Visitation will be held at St. Michael Catholic Church, 10th St. and College Ave. on Thursday, September 9, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. followed by a Funeral Mass at 11:00 a.m. with Reverend Jesse L. Perez presiding. Graveside services and burial will be at Mount Olivet Cemetery, 12801 W. 44th Ave. in Wheat Ridge, CO on Friday, September 10, 2021, at 1:00 p.m. with his longtime friend from childhood, high school, and college, Father John Costanzo officiating. Memorial contributions may be made in honor of Wally to St. Michael Catholic Church.
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