Cover photo for Robert E. Kirkley's Obituary
Robert E. Kirkley Profile Photo
1923 Robert 2000

Robert E. Kirkley

December 6, 1923 — February 4, 2000

Funeral services for Robert E. “Bob” Kirkley, 76, founder, owner and operator of Pi-Rod Tower Manufacturing Company until his retirement in 1988, will be on Wednesday, February 9, 2000, at 10:30 a.m. in the Johnson-Danielson Funeral Home, 1100 N. Michigan St., Plymouth.  The Rev. Robert Beyler, former Pastor of the Plymouth Sunrise Chapel, will officiate.

Friends may visit with the family on Tuesday, February 8, 2000, at the funeral home from 2 to 8 p.m.

Bob Kirkley died at 10:15 p.m., after a lengthy illness, on Friday, February 4, 2000, in Miller’s Merry Manor, where he had been a resident for one year.

A Plymouth resident since 1939, in recent years, he and his wife Helen lived at #127, 805 Baker Street, Plymouth.

Born on December 6, 1923, in South Bend, Bob was the son of William J. and Blanche Dreibelbis Kirkley. He attended schools at Lakeville and LaPaz and graduated from Plymouth High School with the class of 1942.

On December 17, 1944, in the First United Methodist Church of Plymouth, Bob and Helen L. Berger were married by the Rev. W.R. Kuhn, Bob’s great-uncle.

After two years of farming, the couple moved to Plymouth, where Bob was a well-driller with his uncle.

When television came on the market Bob opened a retail television store at the north edge of Plymouth and sold antennas part-time. With a demand for increased reception, Bob felt that towers should be situated on the ground rather than on roofs.   Together with his father, he began designing TV towers and formed a company called Pi (for pipe) and Rod (for rod), the basic materials in the towers.

The first product was made in Bob’s home on N. Michigan St.  The company moved to Western Avenue in 1951, to E. Jefferson St., in 1957 and to it’s present site, North Oak Road in 1962.

In the middle 50’s Pi-Rod branched out into communication towers with a world-wide market.

Bob Kirkley liked heights.  He invented towers and he loved to fly.  He had his own plane, a Cessna Sky Master, and one of the first private airstrips in Marshall County.  He gave lessons to fledgling pilots, retiring in 1978 with over 10,000 hours of flying time and 30 years in the air.

A member of the Sunrise Chapel, Plymouth, Bob enjoyed singing, both at church and for other services.

He was a former member of the Plymouth Kiwanis Club.

Bob is survived by Helen, his wife of fifty-five years, three daughters and two sons.  His daughters are: Cynthia M. and Patric Smith, and Susan E. and Jerry Fish, all of Lawrenceville, Georgia and Patricia A. Kirkley, Dallas, Georgia.  His sons are: William L. Kirkley, Colorado Springs, Co. and Robert P. Kirkley, Valparaiso, Ind.

Nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren also survive, together with a sister,  Kathryn R. McDermott Harper, of Reno, Nevada.

His parents and a daughter-in-law, Lorraine A. Kirkley, preceded him in death.

Burial will be in New Oakhill Cemetery, Plymouth.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Association.

God saw he was getting tired, and a cure was not to be;

So He put His arms around him, And whispered, “Come with Me.”

With tearful eyes we watched him suffer, And saw him fade away;

Although we loved him dearly, We could not make him stay.

A golden heart stopped beating, Hard working hands to rest;

God broke our hearts to prove to us, He only takes the Best!
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Robert E. Kirkley, please visit our flower store.


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