Bob Kirk's grandfather played football and baseball at the University of Mississippi nearly a century ago, and his uncle Ken Kirk was a co-captain of the 1959 national championship team. Bob Kirk continued the family tradition when he played for the Rebels from 1973 through 1976, lettering in his last year.
The Destin, Fla., resident attended his first Ole Miss football game when he was 8 years old and has now been a season ticketholder for baseball, basketball and football for about 35 years. Giving back to the university is also something Kirk holds dear to his heart. His recent significant gift to the Vaught Society has put him over the $1-million mark for lifetime contributions.
"Ever since I was a child, a big part of my fun and joy in life has been Ole Miss," Kirk said. "I'll never be able to repay the experiences, pleasures and friendships I've been given from the total Ole Miss experience, and I feel like I owe something back. I got my diploma, but (alumnus) Frank Everett was right, 'One never graduates from Ole Miss.'"
Keith Carter, UM's associate director of athletics for development and executive director of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, applauds Kirk for his longtime support and involvement.
"One of the keys to developing a high-level athletics program that offers outstanding opportunities for student-athletes and exceptional experiences for fans is private support," Carter said. "Bob Kirk is a successful business professional who once was a student-athlete and now chooses to generously give back. He has a great understanding of the positive benefits of college athletics for student-athletes, the university as a whole, and alumni and friends.
"We are extremely grateful for Bob's remarkable commitment to helping continue the momentum our programs are experiencing. Not only does he give of his resources but he also makes great efforts to be present at many of our events. He also helped his relative, the late Ken Kirk, direct a major planned gift to Ole Miss Athletics. We are very fortunate to have the Kirk family as part of the larger Ole Miss family."
Because he enjoys keeping up with Ole Miss Athletics, Kirk splits his time between Destin and Oxford. He has seen the Rebels progress into winning seasons as a result of what he defines as great leadership.
"In my lifetime, I've never seen such a package of leadership at Ole Miss," Kirk said. "From the chancellor, to (Athletics Director) Ross Bjork and the coaches, the future is as bright as it's ever been. The facilities upgrades are amazing. Our fans are totally behind our teams. What student-athlete wouldn't want to come here? I wish I still had some eligibility myself," Kirk said laughing.
Kirk considers Ole Miss to be his second family and feels his donations are a small token of his appreciation. With almost every sport improving from last season, he believes now is the best time to invest in the Rebel Nation.
"If we all get together, with the leadership we have now, the sky in the limit," Kirk said. "It's going to be one heck of a ride and I hope more Rebels jump on board to be a part of it. We need to all pull the rope in the same direction!"
Mary Ashton Nall