Memorial Services for Howard R. Van Kirk, 83, who died Tuesday, May 20, in Rochester General Hospital after a short illness, will be at 2 p.m., Saturday, at the Seneca Falls Presbyterian Church. Persons wishing to pay their respects may do so at the Sanderson Moore Funeral Home in Seneca Falls on Friday, from 4-6pm.
Van Kirk was editor-publisher of the Seneca Falls Reveille newspaper for 27 years, retiring in 1995. He was born July 25, 1930 in Waterloo Hospital to Howard Rogers (sic) Van Kirk Sr. and Dorothy Lois Morehouse, and graduated from Waterloo High School in 1948. He worked two years at Papec Machine, Shortsville. In 1954 he received a BA degree, cum Laude, from Syracuse University with a dual major in publishing from the University’s School of Journalism, and in history from the College of Liberal Arts.
He was a junior editor for the school’s Daily Orange, and sang in the University Chorus.
In 1954,Van Kirk was employed briefly by the Newark Courier-Gazette before entering the U.S. Army. He served two years, including a time in Japan with the First Army’s Yokohama Public Information Office.
Following his separation in 1956, he went to Carthage in Jefferson County and served for eight years as reporter, photographer, sports writer, job shop foreman and assistant to the publisher at the Carthage Republican Tribune weekly newspaper. In 1964 he became general manager of the Skaneateles Press and Marcellus Observer, working for his J-School dean Wesley C. Clark.
Four years later, he would return to his home county to become editor, and subsequently, editor-publisher of the Seneca Falls-Waterloo Reveille newspaper.
The newspaper won several New York State Newspaper Association awards for investigative reporting, advertising and promotion sales in connection with its 124-page, eight section 125th anniversary edition, which was recognized with an inclusion in the Congressional Record by then Congressman Gary Lee.
Van Kirk served on the NYPA Board of Directors, the 33rd Congressional District Service Academies Selection Board, as board member and president of the
Seneca County Chamber of Commerce, and on the boards of Seneca Community Players, Seneca County Arts Council and the Help Line Crisis Referral Center. He was roasted by the Seneca County Kiwanis Club, honored by the Seneca Falls Rotary Club as an honorary member and Citizen of the Year, and by the community for the anniversary edition.
He was presented the Community Service Award by the Seneca Falls Convention Days Committee, and upon his retirement was cited by the Seneca Falls Board of Education and the Seneca Falls Town Board for his coverage through the years. With the closure of Seneca Army Depot and cessation of its monthly Depot Dispatch, published at The Reveille, he was presented with a token of appreciation. In 1982 he was awarded the Seneca Community Player’s Leland G. Dewey award, and in 2000, the Eisenhower College Alumni Association presented him with its 1999 Legacy Award in appreciation of his support of the college and its students.
He served two years as Seneca County Historian and was instrumental in obtaining a State historical marker honoring 19th century women’s activist and publisher Amelia Bloomer.
Working with Duprey Video Productions, he helped produce a video presentation of Waterloo’s historic founding and unbroken observance of Memorial Day for the Library of Congress Bicentennial archives. He was one of three writers for a Waterloo history update, commissioned and published by businessman LaVerne Sessler in 2005.
Van Kirk was seen in many Players productions, most notably Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, and he served behind the scenes building sets. He enjoyed reading, crossword puzzles, Euchre, his friends and family, and singing with the Seneca Singers and his church choir.
Persons wishing to remember Howard can donate to the American Heart Association, the Presbyterian Church or Seneca Community Players.
He is survived by Barbara (Filiatreau), his wife of 60 years, and seven children: Cynthia Van Kirk, Stephen (Lori Wurstner) Van Kirk, and Scott (Margaret Hunt) Van Kirk in Seneca Falls; Elizabeth (Norbert) Doerry in Burke, VA; Mary Coddington in Warrenton, VA; Zoe (Damon) Ritter in Brentwood, New Hampshire; Rebecca (John) Rooney in Memphis, TN. He and Barbara have 15 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
He was predeceased by his parents and three brothers, Keith, James and Mart.