By Lauren Offner:
On Monday, January 13, University of Wisconsin–Stout suffered a great loss with the passing of Alexander “Alec” Kirby, an associate professor of the Social Science department. Kirby, 51, was remembered as an exuberant teacher with a passion for American history and politics.
Kirby was personable, enthusiastic, and greatly touched many of his students and colleagues, who are still coping with his loss.
“Dr. Kirby had a passion for teaching and his love of history and admiration of his students was clear in every class he taught,” said Fitzie Heimdahl, a fifth year senior in the Applied Social Science program. “It was this passion that inspired me to become a history and political science major in the APSS program. Dr. Kirby truly left a legacy in this world as a professor, and he left a lasting impression on his students.”
Kirby was a respected and published historian who earned his Ph.D. in American history from George Washington University. He joined UW–Stout in 1991 and published his book “Harold E. Stassen: The Life and Perennial Candidacy of the Progressive Republican” last year.
“I’m still struggling to come to grips with the fact that he is gone,” said Xanthi Gerasimo, a 2013 alumni of the APSS program. Kirby had an amazing ability to connect with students and to get them to connect with the material they were studying. He became my advisor and a mentor for an honors contract. Plus, I took several more of his classes. He always treated me as an equal. He taught me to question things, to look deeper and to always recognize others’ humanity. He was my professor, my advisor, my mentor and my friend.”
Kirby is survived by his wife Mary Ellen; his mother and stepfather, Rebecca and Donald Chamberlain of Menomonie; his many colleagues; and students of UW–Stout who were touched by his presence.