1800 Diagonal Road, Suite 600, Alexandria, VA 22314

Herb and Joan Kirby: Our Hospice Journey



Although we didn’t know it at the time our lifelong Hospice journey began November 3, 1960 with the birth of our daughter Kyle .

Joan and I were sweethearts through four years of College, married six days after Graduation and two weeks later moved to Texas to begin our new careers – far from our Michigan home and family.

Life was so wonderful. Newlyweds in love, the birth of our son Mark in 1958, career moves and promotions, a new home – everything perfect. But the birth of our first daughter would be a major life altering event. Kyle was born with severe birth abnormalities considered terminal and she would require extensive 24 hour care . We were devastated.

The Doctors and Hospitals had no answers for us. State institutional care was very limited and had long waiting times before admission. Private care for her was almost non existent and prohibitively costly. Since we just had relocated we could not draw on friends and our families were removed by over a thousand miles.

Hospice was unheard of at the time. It would be some 20 years later before Hospice care for terminally diagnosed infants would be available. As hard as it is to comprehend the only advice we were given was to abandon our Daughter on the doorsteps of a Police Station so she would gain immediate admittance to a state facility. This was abhorrent to us!

For four months Joan (with limited help from me when not at work) compassionately and tenderly cared for our daughter until she died in loving arms on March 7, 1961.

Upon reflection and with the wisdom gained from passing years, it became increasingly obvious to us that her life did have true meaning and a purpose. Initially on our lives- and now on many others. Our subsequent years of volunteerism, church, community, civic service and philanthropy I believe are expressions and the legacy of her brief life.

In 2005, we learned of Children’s Hospice International and the remarkable work of its founder Ann Armstrong-Dailey. As we learned more we knew we had to help. With Ann’s help we set up a program of annual gifting/ endowment to assist CHI in its Mission to provide Hospice services to infants, children and adolescents on a worldwide basis.

I am so pleased to be able to support the annual Kirby Scholarships to help volunteers and professionals attend the CHI’s World Congress meetings for continuing education and training. I know of no more worthy cause or calling than Hospice. These individuals along with Motherhood are deserving of the title “ Saints”.


Herb and Joan Kirby

Kirby Scholars

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