Kirby Benton Albright
Kirby was born in Gravette, AR, May 18, 1925, one of eight brothers and sisters to Tom and Bessie Albright. In 1928, they moved to Sulphur, OK, and a small farm where they raised livestock and farmed cotton as share croppers on an uncle’s land. It was a meager existence. The family’s living conditions in the 1920s and 30s meant no electricity nor indoor plumbing and a long walk, or a mule driven wagon, to town for school and any necessities. Kirby had a near death experience by running into a barb wire fence at the neck level when he was very young. A local doctor arrived from town by horse. The Albrights were good students. After graduating at the top of his class at Sulfur High School in 1943, he did what his brothers did, joined the service. But, his service date was delayed because he was underweight, meals were sparse then. Kirby joined the Navy where he achieved the rank of quartermaster serving on various LST ships. Some of the experiences that molded his early life involved sailing through the debris field from the sinking of the USS Independence, and meeting up with his brother, Tom, who was on shore leave at the same time in Tokyo after Japan surrendered. After the war, Kirby went to North Texas University, then named North Texas State Teachers College, on the GI Bill. Kirby had one salaried job in Houston for about six months. Then he earned commissions selling a product know as wall tile to building supply stores. In Dallas, he met his future wife, Lenora Helen Thompson. Kirby is also quick to remind my mom that one of her sisters said she approved of their marriage because “at least he is college trained.” Mom and Kirby were an unlikely pair as she was from the Northeast cultured society and enjoyed classical music and art as opposed to a hard working southern Oklahoma farmer’s son. After their wedding in Dallas in 1954, Kirby and mom drove to Monterey, Mexico for their honeymoon. Kirby’s affection for Mexico was lifelong, he learned Spanish which came in useful for their many trips to Mexico. Mom enjoyed painting, gardening, tennis and cooking, and Kirby enjoyed real estate deals. After embarking on his own as a homebuilder in the Lake Highlands area of Dallas, he enjoyed success. He developed the Caribou Trail residential street. He was also successful in making lifelong friends from the neighbors in this area. Later, Kirby built a shopping center and warehouse offices in Garland. He co-founded Colonial National Bank among other ventures. In the early 1960’s, Kirby was aware that a lake was to be constructed near Rockwall. He purchased property in the area and moved his development efforts here. Kirby was a thoughtful, loving, caring father who would prioritize the kids’ activities over his own. He would be quick to say, “It would take 1,000 white horses to prevent me from seeing your football game,” and he was right. He would be there but not sure how much of the game he saw as he would be quick to find someone in the stands to discuss local politics and potential real estate transactions. Mom would cook almost every night a family dinner only for us to wait a few minutes for Kirby to get off the phone. Most people here probably have received a call from Kirby that starts off, “this is KBA.” He enjoyed ending his conversations with “mas Tarde” or “hasta la vista” long before Arnold made it famous. He enjoyed sharing the day’s gossip in the local community and could never keep a secret. Kirby was integral in moving this church from Forney to its present location. Mom was active in providing weekly flowers for the church. Kirby liked to say, “We live in the shadow of the church and still can’t make it early enough to get a good seat.” Kirby’s passion for real estate was constant. He had an old Smith-Corona typewriter always nearby making notes (his handwriting was dreadful). Whether he was by the pool on the weekends or at the breakfast table, Kirby could be found typing to-do lists, typed was the best way to read his notes. Kirby most memorable attributes were that he was always optimistic. And, he never gave up. No matter the obstacles, he just wouldn’t concede defeat, he would work and work and work to overcome adversity. Kirby remembered many of the poems he had learned in school all his life. He enjoyed songs from his time growing up, such as Red River Valley. Unsurprisingly, he knew very well Calvin Coolidge’s famous speech on persistence and determination, those words defined him. Kirby loved to drive some of the worst vintages of cars made in the 1970s and if you drove with him you would know that he enjoyed taking off his shoes and resting both of his feet on the center console with the car in cruise control which would terrify anyone in the car. We are not only celebrating my father’s life, but we are celebrating a community of friends and family that are gathered here today. My father and mom would not have had the quality of their last years in life with their health challenges if it were not for Rubi, her mother and sisters. Rubi gave my father and mom constant care and especially companionship. When Lee passed away, on a tour of a nursing home in Rockwall, Kirby secretly told Rubi, “I am over 21, let’s get in the car and go.” Kirby was going to stay with Rubi, not a nursing home because “it is filled with old farts.” Kirby was trying to be the first person at over the age of 90 to run away. These amazing women have dedicated over ten years of their lives to make my parents last decade of their lives feasible. On behalf of our whole family, thank you. Kirby is survived by his loving children: Charles Benton Albright and wife Elizabeth, Mary Ann Albright, Laura Lee Albright and John Phillip Albright and wife Shana; grandchildren: Kirby Benton Albright, II, Paige Holland Albright and their mother Lisa Cooper, Olivia Ann Albright, Lucy Lee Albright and Lila Elaine Albright; siblings: Joe Albright, Nadine Adamo and Ray Albight; his wonderful caregiver: Rubi Hernandez; and many relatives and dear friends. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife: Leonore “Lee” Albright; and siblings: Clyde Albright, Dan Albright, Irene Fine and Tom Albright. A celebration of Kirby’s life will be held 1:00pm Friday, August 10, 2018, at Holy Trinity by the Lake Episcopal Church, 1524 Smirl Drive, Rockwall, 75032, with Rev. Keith Turbeville officiating.