Kirby Lee Heintschel, 69, passed away February 19. He was born during World War II in McAllen, Texas. He was the firstborn to Arthur and Estella and he arrived at a time when Arthur was on active duty in the Aleutian Islands.
In his youth, Kirby spent a lot of time with his grandparents, the Schwanbecks, at their homestead in Cat Spring. From the time spent with them, and experiences shared with family Kirby realized his love of the outdoors. He learned to embrace simplicity and appreciate the land for its agricultural value.
Kirby attended Orchard High School. He was academically successful and lettered in every sport. He received top honors in band for playing the trumpet and became a member of the elite stage band. Kirby declined a music scholarship at Sam Houston to fulfill his dream of attending Texas A&M, where he received his Bachelor of Industrial Arts.
His career began as an Industrial Arts teacher and later he achieved the position of project manager for Brown & Root. This gave Kirby the opportunity to travel throughout the US. This was a fun time, Kirby’s prime of life. The family would get so excited for the weekends when Kirby would be coming home for Sunday dinner. He would drive up in his sparkling clean, rumbling v-8, 1968 Pontiac GTO. You could count on him to arrive early enough to spend time playing with his nieces, Kellie and Kimbra. He had a nick-name for Kimbra, the baby of the family, Kimmie-Kim-Kim, which he called her for the rest of his life.
Kirby also enjoyed teaching the girls skills and hobbies, from leather tooling to canoeing. One of his favorite hobbies was photography. He captured the majority of the family’s cherished moments and provided the keepsake photographs they still enjoy today.
Kirby also loved music. One thing Kellie and Kimbra remember is the number of times, over many years, they had to be reminded not to mess with Uncle Kirby’s stereo. He was very particular about the settings of his equalizer and proper handling of the records. It was difficult, but they waited patiently for him to play some of his albums. He loved all of Elvis’ music, especially his gospel songs. Kellie and Kimbra also remember his fascination with Crystal Gayle. She’s one woman he would have married!
During mid-life, Kirby decided to go back to his roots and move back to Cat Spring, residing at his grandpa and grandma Schwanbeck’s homestead. He enjoyed raising Brahma cattle and farming.
After many years of being settled in this way of life, Kirby continued in his pursuit of growth. He re-entered college and obtained his real estate license and worked for Marek Real Estate for a time. He finally wrapped up his years of labor as a teacher, once again, as a driver’s education instructor.
In Kirby’s final chapter of life you would read sad stories of his deteriorating physical and mental health. But the last pages don’t have to end in gloom. You can read about how truly blessed Kirby was to have his sister and brother-in-law, Patricia and Wayne. The care and love they shared with Kirby during the last, physically painful years of his life certainly made his days brighter. Patricia and Wayne have, once again, taught their family by example what love is supposed to look like. The unselfish, time consuming, servant-hearted, compassion, care and love given to Kirby gave back his dignity, his self-worth and helped him keep his faith in God.
We will remember Kirby’s years of strength, his accomplishments, his love of music, and his faith. One of his favorite Elvis songs was “Take my Hand, Precious Lord”. How appropriate, as Kirby hadn’t been ale to walk for a few years, he was withering away and weak. How perfect are the lyrics.
Posted by Joy Neely