Kirksey leaves legacy of strength, love
By LPR Staff
“It’s not the will to win that matters – everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” – Bear Bryant
Warren “Pat” Kirksey certainly had the will to prepare to win – at everything he did, according to longtime friends. The noted businessman and former
Lockhart mayor used that will to impact everyone around him, day in and day out.
“He was larger than life,” said Abbe Michelson, the widow of Buddy Michelson, one of Kirksey’s closest friends. “He was very giving of himself and of his time, but somehow that always seemed to come at a price – and it was a price that you were happy to pay.”
Michelson, whose family shared dozens of vacations and events with the Kirksey family over the years said that most often, Kirksey was in charge of making arrangements for those family trips, and while the families occasionally disagreed at the onset, the trips were always a success.
“He just knew,” she said. “He knew what people should be doing, and he didn’t make any bones about saying so. And most of the time, he was right.”
The sentiment was echoed by another lifelong friend and fellow Aggie, Bill Schroeder.
“Pat had this amazing memory, and an amount of knowledge on a number of subjects, so whenever he got you in a conversation, he had a way of convincing you that he was right.”
One thing that Kirksey was certainly right about was industrial development in Lockhart. Along with Schroeder and Michelson, Kirksey was responsible for the original development of the Lockhart Industrial Park, as well as a founding member of the Lockhart Industrial Foundation.
“He always believed in Lockhart, and the things that Lockhart could become,” said Mayor Lew White. “Even when his children grew up and left, and although they maintained homes in other places, they always maintained their home here, and were always ready to pitch in and help.”
White said if he was forced to choose, Kirksey would be among the most influential people in Lockhart’s business and industrial history, and thoughtfully dubbed him “Mr. Lockhart.”
In addition to his civic-mindedness, Kirksey was, first and foremost, a family man.
“Everything was about the family, and even our family and the Schroeder family,” said Jeffry Michelson, who grew up alongside Kirksey’s daughters. “There wasn’t a time when our families weren’t together doing something, and he was always there to help us, or Bill’s kids, or whichever kid needed him.”
Prior to his recent bout with ill health, Kirksey remained active and well involved, having been spotted as recently as two weeks ago patronizing Lockhart’s new restaurants and keeping an eye on new businesses.
“He had a lot of ideas about business, and about the future of Lockhart,” Schroeder said. “And it was always very important to him. He was an advisor.”
Strong-willed and sure, there were some things, though, that even his closest friends couldn’t change his mind about.
“He and Buddy always danced around the subject of football,” Abbe Michelson said. “Pat was an Aggie and Buddy was a Longhorn, and they learned early on that it was best that they just didn’t discuss it, because they were never, ever going to agree.”
The Schroeders said they learned the same lesson about politics.
“Even if you disagreed, though, that’s what great friendship is about, and that’s the kind of friend that Pat is,” Schroeder said. “You’d disagree, and then you’d just go on and talk about something else.”
Whatever the topic, friends agree, Kirksey would have the will, and the preparation, to win the debate.
Kirksey, who in recent years spent most of his time between his homes in Lockhart, England and College Station, passed away on Tuesday afternoon, after two weeks of fighting what his daughter called, “a sudden, rare form of cryptic organized pneumonia.” He leaves behind his wife, Patsy, his daughters, Anna and Margo, and their families, as well as a wealth of extended family and friends he loved like family. The family has planned a private burial service, and a celebration of Kirksey’s life will take place at First United Methodist Church on Friday, Feb. 12, at 10 a.m., with a reception following.