Mostly candid snapshots, taken leisurely, in and around the Historic Olde Towne Section of Portsmouth, Virginia, sprinkled with news of events and other happenings. Thanks for stopping by. Link to Flickr Photostream on sidebar >
Memorial Magnolia for Life-long Resident, Frank Kirby, Saturday, December 6, 2014. Friends and neighbors gathered Saturday morning to dedicate the Magnolia tree that Mr. Kirby requested to be planted at the head of Washington Street in Olde Towne. Although I was not at the service, I took some photographs and added some details about Mr. Kirby, gathered from the obituary (Holloman-Brown) and the Internet.
Frank Langley Kirby, a lifelong resident of Portsmouth, VA, died on August 1, 2014, after a very brief hospitalization at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital. He was born on February 20, 1920, and was educated in Portsmouth Public Schools. In 1941 he graduated from the Virginia Military Institute with a BS in Pre-medical Chemistry and the highest MCAT score in the state of Virginia. He was accepted to the School of Medicine at the University of Virginia, but the same day he received his diploma, he also received his commission as Second Lt. in the U.S. Army Mechanized Calvary Corps. In Normandy, France, Capt. Kirby commanded a Special Task Force (Combat Command Coda) during the crucial battle for St. Lo, a railroad terminal vital to the Nazis, just a few miles from Omaha Beach. Under his command were approximately 500 soldiers: Troop C, 113th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, Mechanized, plus a company of Tank Destroyers. He and his men faced vicious resistance as they fought hedgerow to hedgerow. German artillery saturated his position time and time again. While doing reconnaissance, on July 19, 1944, he was gravely wounded. For bravery and valor considerably beyond the call of duty, Major Kirby was awarded several of this country's highest honors, including the Silver Star "for gallantry in action", the Bronze Star "for heroic achievement against the enemy", and the Purple Heart. Additionally, from the de Gaulle government of France in exile, he was awarded the Croix de Guerre, with Gold Star "for outstanding services in the liberation of France." While in England preparing for the invasion of France, he met Lucy Joan Biddles, a young English lady of charm, wit and strength of character to match his own. They became engaged only two months before he was critically wounded. As a result of his massive injuries, he spent the next six years without interruption in eight Army hospitals, undergoing scores of surgeries and challenging rehabilitation, all with his beloved Joan, encouragingly by his side. They were finally able to marry in 1946 in Portsmouth. They had two daughters and remained married until Joan's death, 48 years later. After sufficient rehabilitation, he became the General Registrar for the City of Portsmouth, followed by Office Manager and Corporate Secretary, J.L. Smith Corporation. Finally, in 1959, he became the Executive Director, Portsmouth Chapter, American Red Cross, from which he retired in 1985. Throughout his life, Frank was devoted to his hometown of Portsmouth. He was named First Citizen of Portsmouth in 1977 for his many civic contributions. He served on the City Council, and was Chairman of the Electoral Board. He was a member of the Portsmouth City Bicentennial Commission, the Board of Zoning Appeals, and the Governor's Commission for Employment of the Handicapped, and was Director and Vice-Pres. for the Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce. He was founder of both the Portsmouth Community Trust and the Portsmouth Lightship Museum. He was a Past President of the Kiwanis Club, and was an active member and leader of more than a dozen other civic organizations. Frank was a lifelong member of Trinity Episcopal Church, where he served as Trustee, Sr. and Jr. Warden, Treasurer, Sunday School Superintendent, Vestryman, and Chairman of Trinity's Bicentennial Commission. He also served in several capacities in the Diocese of Southern Virginia. In 2003, at age 83, he married his lifelong friend, Belle Faucette Kelly, widow of Joseph P. Kelly of Norfolk, VA and mother of Mary Nash Kelly Rusher, Kathleen Kelly Oberg, and Joseph Kelly. Frank and Belle had seven happy years together until Belle's death in 2009, during which time he came to know and love her children and grandchildren. In 2009 Frank moved to Harbor's Edge Retirement Community in Norfolk where he continued to serve until his death on the Harbor's Edge Foundation Board and the Buildings and Grounds Committee. He was blessed to be surrounded by good friends, old and new, and the wonderful staff at Harbor's Edge. Frank is survived by his two daughters, Joan Biddles Kirby Brawley (Marion) of Winter Haven, FL, and Frances ("Pepper") Langley Kirby Duncan (Robert) of Atlanta, GA; and seven grandchildren, Frank Brawley (Patricia) of Tampa, FL, Porter Brawley (Lori) of Dallas, TX, William Brawley of Ft. Worth, TX, Mary Brawley of Raleigh, NC, Daniel Duncan of Atlanta, GA, John Duncan of Memphis, TN, and Caroline Duncan of Atlanta, GA. He is also survived by three Brawley great-grandsons: Frank, Porter, and Jones. His fourth great-grandchild, Kirby, is due to be born in September, 2014. Frank was universally known to be an optimistic, energetic, gentleman of honor and integrity. He remained cheerful until the end in the face of extraordinary trials. His influence was profound on all his family and friends across multiple generations. He was a model of character, courage, resilience and tenacity, and he embodied the Spirit of his beloved VMI. Frank's family would like to especially thank his many friends, helpers and caregivers who surrounded him with unwavering support and abundant kindness, especially during his final years of life. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to VMI or Trinity Episcopal Church in his memory. A Service in Celebration of his Life will be held at Trinity Episcopal Church, 130 Court St, Portsmouth, VA on Thursday, August 7, 2014, at 1:00 PM, immediately followed by a reception in the Parish Hall. The Graveside Committal Service with military honors will follow at 3:30 PM at Oak Grove Cemetery, corner of London Blvd. and Peninsula Ave.
Although the city was captured, Task Force C continued to receive severe enemy fire. The infantry not posted at strongpoints had worked its way through the battered streets to clear the bombed remnants of the town from east to west of any snipers or resistance pockets, few of which were encountered. But the enemy continued to pour mortar and artillery fire throughout St-Lô, searching out points here and there as though moving methodically over a checkerboard. A mortar shell caused the death of several men with whom Colonel Ednie [29th Division] was conferring at the CP, although the colonel himself escaped injury. At 1930 General Cota was wounded by shell fragments and had to be evacuated. Capt. Sydney A. Vincent, Jr., of Company B, 803d Tank Destroyer Battalion, left his vehicle to coordinate the activities of his tank destroyers and was killed. A forward observer of the 29th Division Artillery reconnoitred one of the spires in the church of Notre-Dame as an observation post. He decided upon its use and went to gather his crew. By the time he had returned, the enemy had shot both spires off the church.
St-Lô, as the Americans found it, was a shell of the former town, a place of gaunt walls and sprawling heaps of crumbled masonry. The twisted shapes of vehicles lay among piles of rubble. It was as though the whole bitter Normandy campaign had been summed up in this one spot. What had not been bombed out by American air attacks was blasted and rent by artillery, and the destruction was not ended. The enemy shells that came hurtling into St-Lô during 18-19 July smashed the ruins into further chaos and made it a deadly place for Task Force C. Even German planes made one of their rare appearances on 19 July, five of them strafing and bombing over the CP.
On the same evening a party of six Germans, attempting to escape through St-Lô by one of the bridges on the western edge of town, engaged in a fire fight with seven Americans outposting that area. Face to face and only a few feet apart, the two groups shot it out in the street until four of the Germans had been killed, one wounded, and the remaining one captured, while three Americans were killed and one wounded. Incidents like this were the result of rapid advance which had cut off a few German rear guards; the main battle line had moved farther south.
The 113th Cavalry Group, in corps reserve since 1 July, had been alerted to prepare to pass through the 29th Division and maintain contact with the enemy who, it was hoped, would withdraw to a new MLR possibly as far south as the high ground just north of Torigni-sur-Vire. The cavalry group was attached to the 29th Division late on 18 July for reconnaissance missions. At 1200 on 19 July, Troop C of the 113th Cavalry Squadron passed through St-Lô to conduct active patrolling on the three main roads leading south, southwest, and southeast out of the town. Contact was to be gained and maintained with the enemy, and any indication of a withdrawal by the enemy was to be reported at once.
Troop C, reinforced, took up its mission at 0415 and advanced against little opposition for 500 yards; then it was hit by enemy antitank, mortar, and artillery fire. Serious casualties, which included the commanding officer, Capt. Frank L. Kirby, one platoon leader, the first sergeant, and approximately 30 men, led Troop C to withdraw its vehicles north of St-Lô and undertake dismounted patrolling to the south. On the left flank of the 29th Division, Troop A had also met heavy resistance and its activities were limited to short dismounted patrols and use of observation posts behind the American lines. Here, too, it was apparent that the enemy had made only limited withdrawals.
In fact, the Germans had established defensive positions on the high ground 1,000 yards south of St-Lô, taking full advantage of the commanding ground for observation and of the hedgerows for their automatic weapons. They defended their outpost line with automatic weapons, supported by mortars and self-propelled artillery which they moved frequently. Practically all fire was observed from the commanding ground. On the night of 19 July the enemy even threatened a counterattack toward St-Lô. The 1st Battalion, 115th Regiment, defending in the town, spotted enemy activity building up, skillfully anticipated its direction, and broke it up with artillery concentrations and small-arms fire…
…By 20 July, despite enemy fire which interrupted traffic and rendered administration of the city virtually impossible for more than a week, First Army had a firm hold on St-Lô. The 134th Infantry relieved Task Force C in the city on that day. Of the 600 men of the task force, a third were casualties. In addition to fulfilling its mission of capturing the city, the task force had carried out scrupulously the orders of General Gerhardt by bringing into St-Lô the body of Major Howie, late commander of the 3rd Battalion of the 116th Regiment [29th Division]. When Task Force C entered the town Major Howie's body accompanied the spearhead, carried in an ambulance and then a jeep. It was placed before the ruined Cathedral of Notre-Dame, in a gesture of comradeship and respect to an officer who symbolized the Americans' effort, and their losses, in the bitter struggle for St-Lô.
(Extracts from St Lo (7 July-19 July 1944) - American Forces in Action Series - Historical Division - War Department – 21 August 1946)
=================================================== From the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum, August 5, 2014
We mourn the passing of Mr. Frank Kirby, a well loved and respected resident of the Portsmouth community. In addition to his civic duties, Mr. Kirby was the motivating force for establishing the Lightship Portsmouth Museum on Portsmouth’s waterfront. As the Coast Guard gradually replaced lightships with buoys, they were offering the vessels for donation to interested parties. In an effort to revitalize the Portsmouth waterfront Mr. Kirby, then chairman of the Public and Business Affairs committee of the Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce, was looking for ways to promote the city and bring visitors in. Mr. Kirby was aware that the first lightship station in U.S. History was off of Craney Island beginning in 1820. In addition, having been a native and life-long resident of the city, he recalled seeing lightships going up and down the Elizabeth River in the days of his youth. In 1964, once he became aware of the availability of the STONEHORSE lightship (WAL-524) he raised the funds necessary to have the ship delivered to Portsmouth. Three years later the Lightship Portsmouth Museum opened its doors to the public on April 24, 1967. Frank Kirby will be missed in Portsmouth and by everyone whose lives were ever touched by his own.
Portsmouth Community Trust founder Frank L. Kirby with then fiancée Joan in May, 1944. They were married for 48 years.
On July 19, 1944, Major Frank Kirby was commanding a task force of approximately 500 soldiers near the town of St. Lo, France just a few miles from Omaha Beach. St. Lo was a major railroad terminal that the Germans were refusing to give up. Major Kirby and his men faced vicious resistance as they fought hedgerow to hedgerow. German artillery saturated Kirby’s position time and time again until he was gravely wounded. He spent the following six years without interruption in eight Army hospitals. For his actions in combat, he received the Silver Star and the French Cross of War. Read more:
The following remarks were made at the dedication of the Frank Kirby magnolia and memorial stone.
12/6/2014. Thank you, everyone, for coming today. About 5 years ago our neighbor, Frank Kirby, asked that a magnolia tree be planted here in the Swimming Point Conservancy. The tree you see here was donated by Maury, Jenny, Finn, and Bella. It was planted by friend's of the Conservancy. It has taken to the spot and is thriving as you can see. Frank would be pleased. At the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk there is a memorial garden in memory of those who gave their lives for their country. The poet Laurence Binyon, an Englishman, wrote a poem, "For the Fallen". It is engraved on a stone in the garden, in part, and says the following. "They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them." Frank Kirby did not die in the war as Binyon speaks of. He was seriously wounded and returned to Portsmouth to live a life very different from the one he left. Many men would have given up, but that was not Frank Kirby. He married, twice, out living two wives, and raised children here in Portsmouth. Frank, lived with his wounds and gave his life for his country, one day at a time, for the next 70 years. Frank grew old just as others grow old: age did weary Frank, and the years did condemn Frank. He never complained. At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember, our neighbor, Frank L. Kirby.
James J. Dyson, Neighbor. ==========================
My Five Minutes of Fame (Ten, if you read the second page)
Local reporter and friend, Heather McGinley wrote a very nice article for the PortsmouthCurrents section of the Virginian-Pilot that I'd like to share here.
She made me look good. Thank you, Heather. I love what I do.
A PASSION FOR PHOTOGRAPHY
By Heather McGinley
Most mornings, Clyde W. Nordan Jr. packs his camera and readies his mountain bike for the day’s adventures of documenting Portsmouth happenings, architecture and nature.
The 68-year-old’s photography has been featured in keepsake albums, municipal buildings, promotional material, the news and social media.
Recently recognized as one of two official photographers for the Olde Towne Business Association, Nordan uses his work to entertain and inspire, often donating his time and talents to benefit others.
His interest in photography began at an early age. He recalls borrowing his mother’s Kodak Brownie to take pictures during an elementary school field trip to Colonial Williamsburg. His mother worked as a colorist and he would watch her fill in black and white images with the appropriate colors and shading.
But it wasn’t until the 1980s that he started taking his hobby seriously.
Inspired by a picture-taking friend, Nordan began researching photography. He bought a 35mm Canon on layaway and created “Olde Towne Photos” in hopes of one day selling his work.
While continuing his 30-year career as an elevator mechanic, he began documenting community events and started working as a contract photographer with a local photography company.
He read every book he could find on the craft, exploring new techniques as his interests expanded.
He made the transition from film to digital in 2004 and began working with photo editing software. Soon thereafter, he donated his time and talents helping restore photos that belonged to natural disaster victims.
“I’m still learning. I’m just scratching the surface,” he said.
Nordan’s day job provided him with access to Portsmouth rooftops and a unique perspective from which he captured large portions of surrounding communities as well as comings and goings at the port.
Nordan would process his film at the nearest one-hour photo operation and give prints to the captains of the ships he photographed. He began documenting ribbon cuttings early in his career, donating pictures to the owners of new or expanded businesses.
“When people accomplish something I want to support them,” he said. “Documenting is part of celebrating.”
In addition to taking portraits, Nordan took pictures of Little Miss Portsmouth Pageant participants and even the Tides for a short time before they moved to Harbor Park. He has used his talents to promote local restaurants and documents the architecture of historic homes in Portsmouth and Colonial Williamsburg.
“God sets them up,” he said of his nature scenes. “I just push the button.”
One got him a first-place ribbon at a local art show in the 1980s. The picture was featured in a Kodak advertisement for Duratrans, and years later was featured on the Natural Bridge of Virginia and the state division of tourism’s websites.
This year is the 239th Marine Corps Birthday. "On 10 November each year, wherever we are, we pause to celebrate the anniversary of our Corps, and reflect on who we are, what we do, and why we do it." — Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. (Produced by Headquarters Marine Corps Combat Camera)
So many blogs and so little time. Lots of good reading in the blogs I follow (see the list on the right margin) but some have grown stale or abandoned, so I will begin weeding them out this week. If you see one you think you may like, grab the link and bookmark it. It may be deleted tomorrow. And right above the Blog Roll is the list of Favorite Sites. I'll leave them a little longer. If you come across a broken link, please let me know. Thanks. If I don't find something to write about soon, I'll have to delete myself. :-(
October 10, 2008 -
I am a freelance photographer, with emphasis on 'free.' I like to shoot special events and Boats and share the pictures with anybody interested. Most of my images are captured around Historic Olde Towne, hence the name. Sometimes I slip down to the seashore for therapy, so you'll be treated with a few beach pictures from time to time.
Check Complete Profile for links to other blogs and galleries.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/oldetownephotos/.....Find me on Facebook at > http://www.facebook.com/oldetownephotos.....
May you always have a gentle breeze and following seas.
Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover. ---------- Mark Twain
"Salt water will cure anything; whether it be from tears, sweat or the sea."
"An inexhaustible good nature is one of the most precious gifts of heaven, spreading itself like oil over the troubled sea of thought, and keeping the mind smooth and equable in the roughest weather."-- Washington Irving =================================== Only one life, twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will surely last. ==================================
The difference between the recorder photographer... and the artist photographer... is that the artist will, by experience and learning... force the camera to paint the imagination... the emotion... the concept and the intent... rather than faithfully and truthfully reproduce an unnatractive and unflattering record.
Edward Augustine Cranfield - 1966
When the tide goes out, we'll be able to see who has been swimming naked.
A politician will promise you ice cream but never tells you who has to milk the cow.
“When we talk about settling the world's problems, we're barking up the wrong tree. The world is perfect. It's a mess. It has always been a mess. We are not going to change it. Our job is to straighten out our own lives.” ~ Joseph Campbell (1904-1987)
"I'd rather be a could-be if I cannot be an are; because a could-be is a maybe who is reaching for a star. I'd rather be a has-been than a might-have-been, by far; for a might-have-been has never been, but a has-been was once an are."-- Milton Berle