Michael Charles “Iron Mike” Kirksy, Sr., was a loving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, greatgreat-grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin, and friend. On July 22, 2021, in the comfort of his home, surrounded by loved ones, he departed this world. Michael, the eldest of five children, was born to Ethel and Edmond Kirksy in Homer, Louisiana, on April 29, 1933. At age 8, he moved to Summit-Argo, IL, where he was educated in its public school system, completing his studies at Argo Community High School. While attending Argo High, Michael met the love of his life, Velma Dunbar, who would become his wife of 67 years. Michael was an exceptional athlete, having competed in basketball, softball, and football—by which he was named All-Conference, All-Suburban, and All-State. Although he had a natural talent for football, his true passion was for 16-inch softball. Michael’s promising future in football was halted when he was drafted to serve his country. Michael served two years in the U.S. Army before being honorably discharged in 1955. He returned home to Summit-Argo, where he and Velma raised seven children, Michael, Marvin, Mark, Manuel, Mel, Monica, and Darlene. He prioritized family and worked hard to provide a good life for them. Michael established a career at Corn Products Refining Co., where he retired after 37 years of employment. His passion for 16-inch softball never waned, and he began playing for local teams, such as the Trojans, Vets/Bombers, and his company’s team in the Industrial League. He was known as “Iron Mike.” In 1971, the Bombers took first place in three championship games held in Chicago. Michael retired from the Bombers in 1972 after playing with them for 19 years.
On April 1, 2017, he was inducted into the Chicago 16- inch Softball Hall of Fame. Although Michael retired from softball as a player, he remained connected to the sport through an annual event founded by the Bombers, the Old Timers Picnic, that brought the community together through a cookout and softball. Today, 46 years later, the Old Timers Picnic is still a part of the Summit-Argo community through which Michael remained active and supported until his death. Michael was a Boy Scout leader, member of Seniors on the Move, and was a member of the Lions Club. He was a true pillar of his community. Michael embraced retirement and took time to rediscover himself and his life with Velma. She was always dedicated and very involved in church. He reestablished his dedication to God and regularly attended worship at the Church of Christ in Maywood, IL. He also developed a love for golf. He traveled to golf tournaments with friends and often spoke about golf in his last days. He loved listening to jazz music, dancing, watching western movies, and spending time with family and friends. Michael was a simple man of few words who knew how to connect with people. He would say, “I’m never wrong, because I don’t talk about things I don’t know.” He lives on in all of us and will be dearly missed! Michael was preceded in death by his wife, Velma, mother, Ethel, father, Edmond, and siblings, Marie and Robert. Michael is survived by his children, Michael Jr. (Wanda), Marvin, Mark, Manuel, Mel (LaTressa), Monica (Vincent), and Darlene (Wendell); brothers, Edmond (Beverly) and Lee; 25 grandchildren; 38 great-grandchildren; three great-great-grandchildren; nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
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