Dr. Merlin G. Kirby, Age: 87
Nov 4, 1931 -- Jan 6, 2019

Dr. Merlin G. Kirby, 87, of Leawood, KS, passed away Sunday, January 6, 2019.  Visitation will be from 10:00-11:30 AM with Funeral Services at 11:30 AM Friday, January 11, at Lenexa Baptist Church, 15320 W 87th St. Pkwy, Lenexa, KS 66219.  Burial will follow at  Pleasant Valley Cemetery, Overland Park, KS.

 In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorial contributions to World Medical Missions.

     Dr. Kirby was born November 4, 1931, in Ottawa, KS and spent his childhood years between Ottawa and Larned, KS where the Kirby family farmed in the summers. It was also during this time that the Kirby boys honed their passion for antique cars and mischief.  ‘Doc’ as he was affectionately known by many knew from an early age that his primary passion would be to care for others.  He completed his pre-med studies at what was then known as The Kansas State Teachers College of Pittsburg (Pittsburg State now) graduating in 3 years in  1953.  Doc then attended The University of Kansas to obtain his Medical Degree graduating in 1956.  He continued to study the specialty of Surgery through Residency and Fellowships as well as 4 years in the United States Air Force as a flight surgeon caring for some of the healthiest patients in the world - and along the way managed to hop flights all over the world from his base station in Guam.  In 1968 he became board certified in General Surgery and began his Practice in Goodland, KS subsequently moving to Great Bend, KS in 1971 where he continued to serve his community for an additional 34 years, retiring to Leawood, KS in 2006.  Dr. Kirby was a Fellow in the American College of Surgeons, an active member during his practice years of the Kansas Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, and was also a mentor to many medical students from KU School of Medicine as they completed rural medicine and surgery rotations with him in Great Bend.  

        In 1959 during his residency at the University of Colorado in Denver, Merlin met his wife of 55 years Helen.  They were setup on a date by a fellow resident and were joined in marriage in 1963 in Fort Morgan, CO,  In 1967 they were blessed with their daughter Susan and in 1972 blessed once again by the arrival of their son David.  Family was everything to Merlin and Helen and they instilled their commitment to serving others, an unwavering belief in Jesus Christ and the value of an education to their children.  Doc was known far and wide through the state of Kansas and beyond as he was a Surgeon of the golden age of medicine, often traveling from dawn to dusk throughout Western Kansas to tend to his patients,  Doc’s quest for continued learning kept him at the forefront of surgical techniques and procedures and the residents of Western Kansas benefited - as did Susan and David as he would often take one of them with him as he traveled to seminars and continuing education conferences nationwide.

        Throughout his life Merlin’s interests were varied and included photography, acting as a gentleman farmer, pickle connesoiur and entrepreneur, skier, lover of history and nature (especially that of Kansas) and restoring and playing with antique cars.  During his lifetime he restored at least 25-30 cars including Ford Model Ts and As from the early 1900s. He was a proud member of the Heart of America Model A Ford club, and the KCChuggers Model T club.   He also restored the 1940 era Harley Davidson motorcycle that he and his brothers rode during high school, terrifying his mother.  At the time of his passing he was determined to restore a Saxon, one of only 120 Saxon cars known to continue to exist.

        Dr. Kirby was a dedicated and devout servant of the Lord God and Jesus Christ his Savior.  Upon retirement he began a “second” medical practice in missionary medicine through World Medical Missions, a division of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.  During this time he traveled to Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya and Oaxca, Mexico treating patients who otherwise would never have received care and delivering the message of Jesus.  Several of these trips included his wife Helen - who often says he took to places she never could have imagined, including a memorable Thai dinner in Bangkok, Thailand and her dream trip of a safari in Kenya to see the animals.

        Dr. Kirby was preceded in death by two brothers Bill and Keith and a sister Nadine.  Dr. Kirby is survived by his wife of 55 years, Helen E. Kirby, 2 children Susan (Vincent) Horahan, Overland Park, KS, David (Christina) Kirby, two grandchildren Alexander and Katherine Kirby, all of Overland Park, KS, and sister Carolyn Reed of Lawrence, KS and many extended family and friends.


Carlos Villar Jan 08 ,2019

Brother in Christ ,Saint Johns ,Florida

It is difficult to find the words to describe my feelings upon learning of Dr. Merlin Kirby's passing! But having spent some time together attending The First Family Church with his wife, Helen, having a meal together every once in a while, and knowing the strength of their believes, one can only imagine that God had plans for Dr Kirby beyond our expectation. Dr Kirby's email is/was rvntja516@gmail.com says it all!

Susan Bauer Jan 08 ,2019

Former employee ,Pawnee Rock ,Kansas

Dear Helen, My sincere sympathy to you, Susan, David and their families. I think of you and Doc often with fondness and appreciation for the opportunity you gave me to work with each of you and the knowledge I gained and continue to use on a daily basis. I will always remember his sense of humor and that little smirk he had he used it. He was a true humanitarian and a blessing to many. With Love and Sympathy, Susan and Mike Bauer

Barbara Hammond Jan 08 ,2019

Friend of Family ,Larned ,Kansas

What an extraordinary life and legacy Dr. Kirby left not only his patients in Kansas but in the world. He has certainly earned his Rest in Peace in Heaven. Hugs & prayers for family and friends.

John Stettinger Jan 08 ,2019

Friend and fellow EMS responder ,Great bend ,Kansas

Family of Dr. Kirby. What a great man and physician. Working for the Fire/EMS dept here in Great Bend for past 40yrs I had the pleasure of having Dr. Kirby doing lot of our training. Great teacher with a humerous bed side manner. One story if I may: I was doing my 10 recertification hours required at CKMC surgery for patient intubations. Dr. Kirby was in the hallway getting ready to scrub up and then go and perform procedure on a pt. He asked me "Hey fireman John, want to get an intubation on my patient"? I said " sure." I went in and he waited until I got I dropped the tube in the patient airway and then performed the surgery. He told me "nice tuben for a fireman". He seen me later in the week at CKMC Er and said "hey fireman that the patient that I tubed in surgery came into his office to see him today for the followup." Patient stated that his belly felt great but he had a little sore throat. Dr Kirby said," probably so because a fireman student did the intubation on your throat". "He is used to big fire hoses instead of a little plastic tube so he was probably little rough on ya throat!" Dr Kirby will be missed by all of you but not forgotten for all the patients he worked on and save. God bless the Kirby family John Stettinger Battalion Chief Great Bend Fire/ EMS

Sue Rodgman Jan 08 ,2019


Dear Helen, I am so sorry for your loss. I fondly remember our trip together to the Cove in North Carolina for the Samaritan’s Purse conference. It was a pleasure to know Merlin. Praying God comfort you during these next few days and weeks. Sue Todgman

Martin & Susan Becker Jan 08 ,2019

Former patients ,Russell (Milberger) ,Kansas

Our sympathy to Dr. Kirby’s family. He was my husbands physician when we married in 1978. He was a friend & Dr. to my in-laws, LaVern & Elaine Becker (both deceased) for many years! Blessings of Peace, Martin & Susan Becker

Monica Bowers Jan 09 ,2019

Friend ,Great Bend ,Kansas

I know Dr and Helen because I worked at Brentwood Ltd; you are the most gracious and classy customers I had the pleasure of knowing. Your hearts are for others, obviously and the Lord is whom you serve. Please accept my sympathies Helen & and know you are fondly remembered, always.

Patrick Stang Jan 09 ,2019

colleague ,Great Bend ,Kansas

So sorry to hear of Dr. Kirby's passing - always liked to talk to him in the CKMC Dr's lounge years ago - a wonderful man and great surgeon.

Debbie Munz Jan 09 ,2019

Ultrasound Technologist/ baby sitter for children ,Great Bend ,Kansas

Helen and Family so sorry for your loss. I was just thinking about you a few weeks ago and wondering how you were. I worked with you both when I was Supervisor at Medical Park Imaging Department. I remember teaching your daughter swimming lessons and babysitting for you. My deepest condolences to you.and your family! He was a great man and wonderful surgeon.

Rhonda Penka Jan 09 ,2019

Helen and family, So sorry to hear of Dr. Kirby's passing. I am glad I had the chance to know him and you by being in your building. He had a passion for caring for other people and used his knowledge to help many. May God's peace be with all of you. Rhonda Penka

Marie Parvi Jan 09 ,2019

Professional ,Bella Vista ,Arkansas

My deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Dr. Kirby. May the Lord hold you in his arms and comfort you always. Marie A. Parvi CRNA

Max Wright Jan 09 ,2019

David Kirby is married to our daughter, Christy ,New Caney ,Texas

Gail and I extend our most sincere condolences to Helen, David, and Susan as they mourn the death of their husband and father, Dr. Merlin Kirby. At the same time, we rejoice in the knowledge he is with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Karl & Sue Ware Jan 10 ,2019

Church Friend ,GREAT BEND ,Kansas

Helen, We were sorry to hear of Doc's passing. We have fond memories of both of your from Foundry. May God continue to hold you in the comfort of his arms and bring you peace.


friend ,Great Bend ,Kansas

I knew Doc from Central Kansas Medical Center. I worked in maintenance and power plant from 1973 to 2015. He did a couple of surgery's on me also. I want to give my condolences to his family and Godspeed to all.

Dee Herrmann (Brown) Jan 10 ,2019

Nurse at CKMC and patient of Dr Kirby. ,Cambridge ,Nebraska

So very sorry for your loss. I worked at CKMC as a nurse for 33 years. Did a number of procedures with him in ICU. He also was my surgeon and a wonderful person. I learned a lot from him. It was a privilege to know him.

Brian Norvell Jan 10 ,2019

Friend ,Bartlesville ,Oklahoma

I had the privilege of knowing Dr Kirby in Great Bend. He was always very kind and caring. Two memories in particular come to mind, I was Pastoring the Spanish church in Great Bend and we had bought land and had built a new church. At the dedication sitting in the back was Dr Kirby he was excited that there was church for the growing Spanish speaking community. Later my wife and I felt God calling us to Mexico to plant a church. We had to go through very in depth health screenings and physicals for our clearance. Dr Kirby performed the necessary test and didn’t even run anything through insurance he didn’t want us to be charged for anything. Look forward to seeing him again in heaven and sharing mission stories.

Susan Swartz Ragan Jan 10 ,2019

Neighbor ,Formerly of Great Bend ,Colorado

Helen, I’m so sorry for your loss. You and Dr. Kirby were great neighbors on 19th Street in Great Bend. My prayers are with you.

STEVEN LEBRE Jan 11 ,2019

Old Friend ,Wauwatosa ,Wisconsin

What a flood of memories. What a great man and philanthropist. I was so young when I came to KS, from MN, but he not only believed in me and invested in me, he entrusted me to try and provide spiritual guidance and Biblical understanding, to his son. He cared and prescribed for me without fee when my stitches were infected. He hosted a "Farewell" party for me when I left Great Bend, to return to Minneapolis-a changed person. My heart, prayers for comfort and peace, and warmest regards to the family.

Beth Marshall Metcalf Jan 12 ,2019

Nurse CKMC ,Haven ,Kansas

I worked with Doc, in ICU and had the highest respect for him. He was a great surgeon. I am sorry for your loss.

Jan 13 ,2019

Myself and family were patients of Dr Kirby. More importantly my mother, Mildred Sauer was a nurse at LaCrosse hospital for 46 yrs. Many times she told us Dr Kirby was the best surgeon she ever assisted. She had great respect and admiration for Dr. Kirby. Perhaps they will meet in heaven. Our sympathy and prayers for you family and friends.

Lenexa Baptist Church
15320 West 87th Street
Zip Code:
Jan 11 ,2019
10:00 AM
Google Map:
Funeral Service
Lenexa Baptist Church
15320 West 87th Street
Zip Code:
Jan 11 ,2019
11:30 AM
Google Map: