Celebration of Life
Obituary of Gilbert (Merv) Ernest Mervyn Kirker
Merv Kirker, beloved husband of Corinne Kirker, of Calgary, AB, passed away peacefully on Sunday, December 3, 2023, surrounded by his family at the age of 85 years.
Merv was born in September 1938 in Trail, British Columbia, where his parents settled after immigrating from Northern Ireland. He graduated high school with an academic scholarship to attend the University of British Columbia. He subsequently attended medical school at UBC, became class president, and graduated as the first doctor in his family in 1963.
He landed his first job as the hotel doctor working in Alberta’s glorious Rocky Mountains at the Chateau Lake Louise and Banff Springs hotels. Since his salary barely covered his bar bill, Merv decided to move to the Calgary area where his two older brothers (Raymond James Kirker and William Percy Kirker) were working in the oil patch. It was in Calgary that he met the love of his life, Corinne Ann Kirker (nee Jackson), who was working as an Emergency nurse at the Holy Cross Hospital.
Even though Corinne broke her two front teeth on their first date, they were married six months later and have been inseparable ever since.
Corinne and Merv travelled across North America for his training in Ophthalmology and the emerging field of vitreoretinal surgery. They returned to Calgary in 1971 and joined the Associate Clinic. After a few years and four healthy boys in school, Corinne joined Merv at work. With the help of the indispensable Jean Safruik, Corinne ran Merv’s office for 25 years. After a long and productive career, including time as the Department Head of Ophthalmology at the University of Calgary and the President of the Medical staff at the Foothills Hospital, Merv retired at the age of 69.
Merv had many passions including biking, skiing, golfing, and more recently, bridge. He approached these activities like the scientist he was, reading books about hiking, studying golf with meticulous precision, and always furthering his learning in the intricacies of bridge. His enthusiasm for travel was evident in the trips he and Corinne took all over the world, but nothing was more at home for Merv than his time at their family cabin in Invermere. He had an amazing memory of places, dates, and the events that occurred in his life. In our family, his memory was as unparalleled as his gift for storytelling. “Here’s the story…” he would say, and we always knew to settle in for a good one.
The primary focus for Merv was his family and more specifically his sons. He took immense pride in their accomplishments, but more importantly, simply enjoyed spending time with them.
The loss of Merv is going to leave a huge void in so many of our lives. His quiet, commanding presence made him the person so many came to for guidance and support. If you came to him with a question on almost any subject, he would thoughtfully give suggestions, or he would research the matter and get back to you with ideas. He took great and thoughtful care in the advice he gave to those around him.
Merv is survived by his wife Corinne of 57 years and is predeceased by his parents, Catherine and James, and beloved son James Gilbert Kirker in 1997. He will be dearly missed by his sons, Doug (Hails), Michael (Cori), and Andrew (Jenn); his grandchildren, Alex, Will, Declan, Grayson, Quinn, Nixon, Emmett, and Avery; extended family and a vast number of incredible friends.
A Celebration of Merv’s Life will be held at McInnis & Holloway (Park Memorial, 5008 Elbow Drive SW, Calgary, AB) on Thursday, January 4, 2024, at 2:00 p.m. with a reception to follow immediately afterward at the Calgary Golf & Country Club (1 block west of the intersection of Elbow Drive & 50th Avenue S.W., Calgary, AB). Family and friends who are unable to attend in person are invited to join Merv Kirker’s service streamed live (see below) on the day of the service. For those who are unable to view live, a recording of the service will be posted. Condolences, memories, and photos may be shared and viewed with Merv’s family here.
If friends or family so desire, please consider a donation to the Kirker Endowment for Mental Health Research at the University of Calgary. This fund supports the Mental Health Initiative for Stress and Trauma at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. https://engage.ucalgary.ca/kirker.
In living memory of Merv Kirker, a tree will be planted in the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area by McInnis & Holloway Funeral Homes, Park Memorial, 5008 Elbow Drive SW, Calgary, AB T2S 2L5, Telephone: 403-243-8200.
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