Allegany – James W. Kirkpatrick “Retired President of Dresser Clark”
After an eventful and well-lived life, James W. Kirkpatrick peacefully passed away surrounded by family and friends on July 10, 2021. Mr. Kirkpatrick was born on November 10, 1922, in Cumberland, Maryland. Jim was the son of James Kirkpatrick, a Scottish carpenter from Creetown, Scotland, and Elizabeth Alda Kirkpatrick (Sites), a schoolteacher from Beckley, West Virginia.
Jim attended Allegany High School in Cumberland, Maryland, and graduated from the University of Maryland School of Engineering with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering in May 1945. He married Marion "Mary Anne" Jeannette Fitzgerald of Arlington, VA, on July 14, 1944. In addition to his wife Mary Anne, Jim is survived by eldest son, G. Douglas Kirkpatrick of Portland, OR, married to Heidi (Lambert) Kirkpatrick, Ruth A. (Kirkpatrick) Leonard of Allegany, NY, and the youngest son, Gerald L Kirkpatrick, of Crozet, VA married to Ann Marie La Bruno Gathright. Jim is also survived by three grandchildren, Colleen Leonard Wood-Smith (Greenwich, Conn), Ryan Kirkpatrick (East Aurora, NY), and C. Fiona Kirkpatrick (Larkspur, California), and six great-grandchildren.
Jim was predeceased by his parents and his sister Virginia (Horner).
Central to Jim's life was the First Baptist Church of Olean that he and Mary Anne joined in 1947. Jim remained an active member of the church and church community throughout his life. He was a long-time member of the Board of Trustees and taught the high school Sunday school class for many years. In 1971, he was the Chairman of the First Baptist Church's New Building Committee, where he led the construction and financing of the present church building. After retirement, Jim and Mary Anne wintered at Jekyll Island, Georgia, from 1987 through 2014, where he was an active member of the Jekyll Island Chapel.
Jim's professional career began in 1944 at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA, what eventually became NASA) as a Research Engineer in Cleveland, OH. Shortly after, he accepted an engineering design position at Transworld Airline in Kansas City, MO., from 1945 to 1947. While at TWA, he was part of an engineering team working under Howard Hughes designing TWA aircraft engines. Jim lost his position at TWA when Mr. Hughes personally fired the entire engineering department in which Jim worked.
Jim may be best remembered as the President of Dresser Clark. Jim joined what was known at the time as Clark Brothers in 1947 as a staff engineer. Nine years later, the company assigned him to attend the Gas Turbine School in Farnsworth, England, traveling to the school via the RMS Queen Elizabeth. Among the first "international businessmen," Jim traveled the world by methods ranging from British Airway's supersonic Concorde, private Russian railcar, and in one case, camouflaged jeep. In July 1977, he was named President of Dresser Clark. A tribute to Jim upon his 1987 retirement from Dresser stated that "During his years as President, Dresser Clark forged significant alliances in Japan, Europe, the Middle East, and South America, built the only hydrocarbon test stand of its kind and strengthened its position as a world-leader in centrifugal compressors."
Jim was a member of more than a dozen Fortune 100 Board of Directors and was chosen to instruct military personnel on international business issues at the US Army War College. He was a charter member of the National Management Association, which awarded him the "Silver Night" for his achievements as a Professional Manager.
Ever sensitive to his responsibility to the local community, Jim served as a Board member for the Olean YMCA, St. Francis Hospital, the local Economic Development Zone, St. Bonaventure University, and many other local community groups and boards. In 1992 he was awarded the Olean Chamber of Commerce's "Louie" award and was honored with a "Key to the City."
A dedicated family man, Jim enjoyed spending his leisure time with his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Jim also enjoyed his rose garden, woodworking, and wood carving as a Jekyll Island Wood Carver's Club member. In the early 2000's he restored his uncle's 1930 Austin (his uncle bought the car new in 1930), and the restored vehicle won 1st place in several Eastern US antique car shows. The car was eventually retired from shows and donated to the Northeast Classic Car Museum of Norwich, NY., where it is part of the museum's permanent collection.
This tribute would not be complete without mentioning the family of caregivers whose devotion and loving care allowed Jim to remain home and enjoy his family and church community until his final hours. They were a gift not only to Jim but to his family. Thank you to Stephanie, Heidi, Natasha, Mary, Margaret, Blake, Kate, and Betsy.
Friends will be received at the Letro-McIntosh-Spink Funeral Home, Inc., 646 East State Street, Olean, Today, Tuesday, July 13, 2021 from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. A Funeral Service will be held tomorrow Wednesday, July 14, 2021 at the Olean First Baptist Church, 133 South Union Street, Olean at 10:30 am. The Rev. Millard Cook, Associate Pastor, will officiate. Burial will be in Allegany Cemetery. Online condolences may be made at www.LetroMcIntoshSpinkFuneralHome.com
In lieu of flowers, Memorials may be made to the Olean First Baptist Church, 133 South Union Street, Olean, New York 14760.