William Thomas (Bill) Kirksey, born Nov. 11, 1948, passed away July 8, 2020.
Beloved husband of Cynthia B. Vernon for 30 years. Son of James Clayton Kirksey and Betty Hendrix. Brother to James (Elizabeth), Mark (Jaylona), and Matthew (Carla). Father (with ex wife Regina Cunningham) of Clayton Eugene, Heather Townsend (Allen), Sean Martin (Erica), Leslie Miller (Timothy), Chad Ian, Melissa Clark (Aaron). Stepfather of Matthew McCain (Alyssa) and Michael McCain. Grandfather of 15.
Bill was born in Metropolis, Illinois, where he graduated from Metropolis High School. He received a Bachelor of Science in Speech Communications from SIU-C and later a Master of Science in Speech Communication and a Master of Arts in Theater Directing from SIU-C. A high school teacher of English, Speech, and Theater, Bill started his career in Sparta, then moved to Belleville. Venturing into co-owning a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise took him to Shelbyville. But Bill returned to his first profession when he took a teaching position at Carbondale Community High School where he and Cynthia met. They relocated to Crete, Illinois, in 1995, when he was hired to teach at Thornridge High School in Dolton, Illinois. Bill coached Lincoln-Douglas debate, Individual Events, Theater in the Round and directed numerous plays and musicals at the various high schools where he worked. He directed the first winning Duet Acting Team at the National Forensic League's National competition. That team featured a young Nelsaan Ellis, who later acted professionally in movies and television. Many of Bill's students went on to work as professional entertainers. Bill acted in many commercials, industrial movies, plays and musicals when he studied and lived in Carbondale.
Known for his kindness, wit, and humor, he is missed by everyone whose life he touched.
Bill's cremains will be interred at Glenwood Cemetery in Shelbyville. A celebration of his life will be observed at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to Faith United Protestant Church, 10 Hemlock, Park Forest, IL 60466 or SIU-C Speech and Theater Department.
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