Lewis Selkirk “Kirk” Coonley, Jr, age 74, died on November 27, 2020 of hairy cell leukemia (HCL). He was born in Troy, NY to Lewis S. and Dorothy Coonley.

Kirk attended St. George’s School in Middletown, RI, graduated cum laude from Princeton University in 1968 and earned an MS in sanitary engineering at UNC-Chapel Hill, 1970.  He married Linda Murphy in January of 1970 and served in the US Army, Cpt. 1970-76 at Ft. Sam Houston, TX and Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD.  They moved to Kansas where he was a consulting engineer at Burns & McDonnell, ’76-’88; Civil and Special Projects Engineer for the City of Overland Park, KS, retiring in 2008. He worked part-time for Affinis Corp. until 2011.  They moved to Concord, NC for 8 years and then to Colorado Springs in 2019.

Kirk’s favorite part of engineering was mentoring the next generation.  In his spare time, he enjoyed financial planning, volunteering for AARP Tax Aide, hiking, and following the lives of his offspring.  His travels included 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, Canada, Rhine River countries, England and Scotland. 

Kirk was a cancer survivor, first diagnosed with HCL in 1983.  He was graced with 37 years of remission.  He wrote in 1989:  “I may never reach the heights others may have expected of me, but through serious illness and subsequent adjustments, I firmly believe you must live life on your terms, you must like and enjoy what you do, no matter what the pay is.”

In 2004, Kirk and Linda began vacations to the log home that Kirk designed and had built in Forbes Park near Ft. Garland in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.  He loved having access to mountain hiking, wildlife, wildflowers, and especially hosting many visitors.  At age 72, Kirk climbed his first 14,000-foot mountain (Humboldt).  A few weeks before the recurrence of HCL in August (2020), he climbed over 13,000 feet to Devil’s Playground which is on the trail to the summit of Pikes Peak. 

He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Linda; daughter Jana Blake (Stephen), Avon, OH; son Daniel Coonley (Dustin Louie), Studio City, CA; grandchildren Anna Argabright, Allie Argabright, Marcus Blake & Sian Blake; sister Leah Westmoreland (Larry), Edmond, OK; brother-in-law Robert D. Murphy (Debbie), Lawrenceville, GA; nephew Robert P. Murphy (Summer), Clayton, GA and many friends in Colorado and across the country.

Although Kirk was a generous contributor to several churches over the years, he agreed wholeheartedly with John Muir: “I’d rather be in the mountains thinking of God, than in church thinking about the mountains.”

The family invites you to take a hike or walk, in memory of Kirk.   Donations may be made to Engineers without Borders (1031 33rd St, Suite 210, Denver CO 80205); Mission: Wolf (PO Box 1211, Westcliffe, CO 81252); Pikes Peak Community Foundation (102 S Tejon St, #530, Colorado Springs CO 80903).

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This Obituary Has 16 Condolences

  1. So sorry to hear of Kirk’s passing. I have many fond memories of working with him at the City of Overland Park. Blessings to you all.

  2. This is perfectly written for him! What a great man- I’m so thankful I knew him! Prayers and hugs to his family! Love you all! Lisa Marshall

  3. I am so saddened by this news. I was so looking forward to hiking season this year with you both joining in. He was such a nice person and my heart hurts for you.
    Please know that you are in my prayers and thoughts

  4. Linda and family: I only met Kirk a couple of times when you were stationed in San Antonio, but his cheerful and happy disposition made a lasting impression. My sincere condolences, Tina (Peters) Petimezas

  5. I loved reading this and learning more about Kirk. I knew him to be a kind man who was always smiling. I enjoyed getting to know you both. My heart goes out to you and your family. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

  6. Thankyou to the Coonley family family for writing such a moving tribute. We learned more about Kirk. We particularly liked Kirks reference to the John Muir quote about worshipping God in the great outdoors vs the confines of a church. He lived a fruitful and meaningful life. May God hold you and your family in the palm of his hand . Sending out love and heartfelt prayers to you Linda and the Coonley family.

  7. Linda, it was a joy and privilege to be your next door neighbor in Concord NC and to get to know you and Kirk. I am so sad to learn of his passing, and will continue to keep you in my prayers. Blessings on you and your family in the days ahead!

  8. Linda, you both have touched so many other lives in unforgettable ways. Your generosity, sharing spirit, interesting discussions and love of the outdoors helped reshape all who had the privilege of being with you. I never thought it would end — and it won’t.
    I have laughed so many times with other hiking friends about my observation that I saw Kirk’s butt more than his face on every steep hike we made. He was like an unbridled mountain goat every time he approached a trail.
    The joy goes on …
    Thank you both,
    Mike Serk

  9. Kirk was a grand man: thoughtful, kind, modest, really clear about his thoughts, even though he didn’t feel the need to blab about them. I really enjoyed the partnership I felt with him when we were both at Valley View church. God bless you, Linda. It was a joy to know both of you. All the best to you and your “kids.” (How come these 40 and 50 somethings that we know are still “kids”?)

  10. It was an honor for me to work with Kirk in the Overland Park, Engineering Services, Planning Department. He was a true mentor for us all and an incredible role model for every employee of the Engineering Division. His retirement was an wonderful new adventure for Kirk and his family, but it left a very large “hole” in the Division. He was missed but he kept in contact. Kirk certainly inspired me to appreciate nature and it’s enrichment of your life, I loved to hear of his hiking vacations.

    Condolences to Linda and “the kids”….. what great memories you too must have. Kirk will always be with me too.

    Peggy Sneegas ….. retired engineer.

  11. Linda, I am saddened to hear about the death of Kirk. He was a tremendous person and a well respected engineer. We worked together at the City of Overland Park for almost 11 years. I know he loved the outdoors and the mountains. I wish your family peace and grace during this holiday season.


  12. Our condolences to Linda and the family and our thoughts are with you.

  13. Our heartfelt condolences on Kirk’s passing. I will remember him in many ways and on many trails. HIs knowledge of maps and trees; his desire to explore new trails and discover new wildflowers. His love of the land and his family and friends will live on. I have made a donation to Mission Wolf in his name. God Bless….Forever in our Hearts are the beautiful memoirs of those we have loved.
    Susan Snodgrass – Forbes Park Hiking Group

  14. I am sending prayers and comforting hugs at this time of grief to you and your family. The many times of Antioch Library gatherings outside of the job were fun to be with you and Kirk and also your attending our 40th wedding anniversary celebration was very special. Take care and God bless the many wonderful memories of your marriage.

  15. I first met Kirk at Valley View Church, he was my bridge partner and I was just a novice. He was so patient that I continued to learn and now I spend many hours playing. Another time we were
    invited to Peggy Smith’s home for a dinner that the Kruezberger’s had won in an auction at church. I did not know he was such an avid lover of the outdoors, as am I. Next to being out of doors reading is my next passion. Linda, I know you can relate to that. I didn’t know either of you well, but my memories of you both, are precious to me. May God be with you and give you peace.
    Love, Martha Kauffman Babbitt

  16. I met Kirk about 4 years ago as we were neighbors in Forbes Park. He loved to hike and took over the responsibilities of our hiking group. He was a good man & I am thankful that he was my friend.

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