Without Trails

John Douglas “Jack” Kirch Obituary (2021) The Citizen


John Douglas “Jack” Kirch

April 8, 1951 – Sept. 20, 2021

MARCELLUS – Jack was a man of indomitable spirit and an adventurer with a zest for life second to none. Whether working on a project, working in his business, or hard at play, he made sure he enjoyed every day to its fullest. His boundless love of life, astounding memory and irresistible personality gave him the larger-than-life persona we will all remember.

Jack loved the outdoors. He loved physical activity, and in 1997 found the perfect partner-in-life with Sue Kahler, whom Jack lovingly called “Slick”. Together they shared years of all kinds of adventure. Their moniker and slogan has been “The Tandem, Getting After it Since 1997”.

Sports and the outdoors were the passions of his life. Whether it was downhill or cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, backpacking, or bicycling he always wanted to go farther and faster. One of his proudest accomplishments was becoming a member of the 46ers, a club dedicated to hikers who have summitted all 46 High Peaks of the Adirondack Mountains. In addition, he and Sue completed the Winter 46. If not hiking the trails, he could be found volunteering to repair them. Whatever the activity, he made new friends, and had a gift for remembering every name and a little bit about each person.

His love for the family cottage on the French River, Ontario, Canada began as a youth and was one of the mainstays of his life. On any given day, he might be found paddling, water skiing, playing “sink the sponge” with kids, or eating wild blueberry pie. For over 40 years, the family relied on Jack to lead the way in maintaining and improving the cottage. Jack loved to captain the family boat on excursions upriver, and made friends all along the way.

In the mid-1970s he served as President of the Finger Lakes Ski Club and participated in ski trips from coast to coast and Europe. In FLSC he was responsible for bringing in many new members with whom he maintained close friendships to this day.

Jack participated in every “The Great Race” since its inception in 1978, a feat few can lay claim to. He was an organizer and worker at many events including the Great Winter Race, the Owasco Flyer, and various cycling groups throughout the area. He and Sue were long-time members of the Top Hats Dance Club and avidly participated in ballroom dancing.

Jack began life as number three of six siblings in Buffalo, NY on April 8, 1951. He was the son of James Kenney and Jane (Hartman) Kirch. The family moved to Auburn in 1961. He lived most of his adult life in Sennett and most recently in Marcellus with his life partner, Sue.

When his father died suddenly and tragically at age 46, at 20 years of age Jack assumed the role of “Dad” to his three younger sisters. Jack was a supreme role model and mentor to his sisters, and they adored him.

He pursued a variety of careers before finding the perfect fit as a sporting goods manufacturers sales representative, in which his gift of gab served him well. For 30 years he loved what he did, and had a goal of working until age 70, a goal which he accomplished.

A hallmark of Jack’s character was his dedication to family and friends. He always willingly and enthusiastically lent a hand on whatever project needed to be done, expecting nothing in return. He made those projects fun for all.

Jack was predeceased by his parents and brother Jim in 2019. He is survived by Susan Kahler; her daughter Mindy Valenti of New York City; sisters: Peggy Kirch (Art Piccinati), AZ, Elizabeth “Betsy” del Sol, CA, Sally Kirch, AZ, Mary Ann Kirch (Peter Boutell), CA; nephew Aaron Kirch, AZ; niece Marisa (Jeremiah McGuire), AZ; grand-niece Tacy Lipovic, AZ; cousin and fellow adventurer and sports enthusiast Ann Hartman, VT; numerous cousins; and many grand-nieces and grand-nephews.

As Jack requested, there will be a party to Celebrate his Life on Sunday, November 7, 2021, 1:30–4:30 PM at the Springside Inn, 6141 W Lake Rd., Auburn, NY.

Everyone who knew Jack had a story about him, and he told innumerable stories himself. They were always entertaining, if not always entirely true; his motto was “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story”. Please join us to celebrate Jack and share your stories.

We will all miss Jack deeply, but take comfort in knowing he has gone on yet another adventure.

If you would like to make a donation in Jack’s name, please consider The Adirondack Mountain Club, specifically their Build Better Trails project. https://www.adk.org/better_trails/.

Published by The Citizen on Oct. 10, 2021.


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