Joel Kirkpatrick, an administrative assistant for the Fort Lewis College Music Department, died Nov. 17 2018 after a short battle with cancer at the age of 59.
Kirkpatrick’s memorial service was held on Dec. 9, 2018 in Roshong Recital Hall on campus where community members remembered his life.
Kirkpatrick started working at FLC in September 2011 and worked on campus serving students in the music department in a number of ways during his almost eight years working at the college.
He was in charge of the instrument inventory, worked on much of the department’s paperwork, and brought people to campus for different events for the students, Marc Reed, chair and associate professor of music, said.
Kirkpatrick also worked as an administrative assistant for both the philosophy and political science departments as well, Justin McBrayer, chair of the philosophy and political science departments said in an email to The Independent.
Reed remembers Kirkpatrick as one of the most genuine people he ever met-saying he was extremely hardworking and extremely enthusiastic.
The students he interacted with also remember him fondly.
“He was very positive and kind and just an all around really nice guy,” Martha Sorrells, a former music education major, said.
She remembers how helpful he was during her time as a music major.
She recalled Kirkpatrick helping her by letting her rent a tuba to take home over break even though it went against policy.
Sorrells said that she was unaware of his recent diagnosis, and that he had been uncomplaining when he was around students.
“He was a complete and total trooper about it,” she said. “None of us really knew how bad it actually was.”
Reed said that Kirkpatrick was not sure that the problem was cancer this time around and believed it could be kidney stones.
He said that Kirkpatrick was open about his diagnosis and had shared the information with him, a professor in the philosophy department, and the Human Resources Department.
“He was really open about it and optimistic about it,” Reed said. “He had had, cancer, testicular cancer 25 years ago and had beat it so I think he was, I wouldn’t say overly optimistic, but very optimistic about this. I think he realized when it progressed it was a different and much more debilitating disease.”
Before he died he would put up a tree in Jones Hall every year, Sorrells said. His family put up a Christmas tree with a photograph of him in the Jones Hall foyer in his memory.