Dris Dee Kirk
Doris Dee (née Lansing) Kirk, an identical twin and a lover and creator of art, died peacefully on Thursday, July 10, 2014, at Alpine Nursing Home in Little Falls, New York. She was 87.
“She made me appreciate the love of art and beauty; it takes a lot of talent,” said Donna DeCarlo of her mother, who was an accomplished oil painter, artist, craftsperson, and exemplary quilter. She was well known for her quilting, teaching classes at the Voorheesville Public Library, and always had time to meet with quilting friends to share ideas.
Mrs. Kirk was born in Ohio, on July 18, 1926, the daughter of Russell and D’Esta (ne´e Bull) Lansing. As a child, she moved with her family to East Greenbush, graduating from Columbia High School in 1944, and then studying at the Rochester School of Photography.
From there, she got a job tinting photographs at Frumkin Studio in Albany with Marjorie Kirk, the mother of her future husband, James L. Kirk, a recent World War II veteran. The couple married on Dec. 21, 1946.
“James was an insurance man for Nationwide,” Ms. DeCarlo said. “It’s interesting to think about how she used to work for her future mother-in-law.”
Mrs. Kirk moved to Altamont in 1975 and was very active in the community for 25 years before being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2002. She and her husband were members of St. John’s Lutheran Church on Maple Avenue.
“It’s sad, but a blessing,” said Ms. DeCarlo of her mother’s death. “Who would want to live like that, not knowing who anybody is? We were all raised independently and we all put our heads together; made efforts to see her, but she couldn’t live with anyone. It was out of our control.”
Spending the final 10 years of her life at the nursing home in Little Falls, Ms. DeCarlo said, her mother couldn’t comprehend the death of her identical twin sister, Doloris, in 2010.
“I remember going to see her once with my sister, and my sister is holding her hand, and she asks Doris if she knows who I am,” said Ms. DeCarlo. “She said, ‘You look familiar, but I really can’t place you.’ My sister is a nurse even, but she couldn’t properly care for her.”
As identical twins, Doris and Doloris were on the same wavelength, Ms. DeCarlo said. Doloris lived in Atlanta, but, when the two were together, there was a unique connection, she said. They would share projects and ideas.
“One time, my mother said, ‘I have to call Doloris,’ and then the phone immediately rang with Doloris on the other line,” said Ms. DeCarlo. “This happened many times. When they were 70 years old, they still looked exactly alike, and people would stop in their tracks when we were out.”
The Kirk house in Altamont — on 5.4 acres on Maple Avenue — has stayed in the family for a very long time, Ms. DeCarlo said; her sister now lives there.
“She was a very pretty lady,” Ms. DeCarlo said. Reflecting on the essentials her mother taught her, she said, “I didn’t learn how to cook, but I learned how to be a better parent.”
Mrs. Kirk is survived by her four children and their spouses: Donna DeCarlo and her husband, Lewis, of Albany; Richard Kirk and his wife, Deborah, of Spencer, Massachusetts; Carol O’Connor and her husband, Frank, of Guilderland; and James R. Kirk and his wife, Kerry, of Midlothian, Virginia; as well as by 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Her loving husband, James Lysaght Kirk, who had lived in Altamont, died before her, as did her identical twin sister, Doloris May Weingartner, who had lived in Atlanta, and her brother, Jack Lansing, who had lived in East Greenbush.
Mrs. Kirk’s family will hold a private memorial service. Anyone wishing to make a donation in Doris Kirk’s name to the Alzheimer’s Foundation (www.alz.org/donate) will help support research for prevention and treatment of this devastating disease, the family wrote.
— Jordan J. Michael