This is a picture of Kirk Woodward. My earliest memories of him involved me listening to his early morning show on KRBC radio in Abilene, Texas. He was an early morning icon and local hero/star.
Even though the picture of Kirk may not be the best, I believe it does a great job of capturing his funny and amusing persona. Kirk was a fun person to be around and he had a perceptively keen wit. He could spot the humor in most everything. He was raised “Church of Christ” as I was, but had given up on most matters religious by the time I had met him.
When I first met Kirk in person it was through sailing at the Abilene Sailing Association. Kirk owned a “Flying Dutchman” class sailboat and would often allow me to crew for him. We had many good times in that boat. He loved to sail and he was always in rare form once the tiller was in one hand and a beer in the other.
Though I worked for another radio station in town my background was similar to his. Like Kirk, I first worked as an on-air guy through college and then would transfer my career to advertising sales. Kirk was an amazing sales person. He knew everybody in town and was well liked by his clients. It wasn’t long before he was promoted to Sales Manager for KRBC–the leading station of its day in Abilene.
One of the first things Kirk did as manager was to hire me away from KWKC. He found a way to increase the money and gave me a small but stable account list. I worked the next two years at KRBC.
I wasn’t that experienced of a sales person and (sadly) I didn’t do very well. It wasn’t all my fault. Abilene wasn’t that big of a town and most of the leading business accounts were already being serviced. It was hard to build a solid account list on new businesses since so few were attracted to Taylor county in those days. My account list did grow some–but not as much as Kirk thought it should have. He decided I had to go. It wasn’t personal.
You might think I’d be angry at him for giving me the boot. Truthfully I was sore about it for awhile. But from where I sit today, I believe the universe had a larger plan that included getting me out of Abilene and into a new path of college teaching. I’m not sure if my friend Kirk believed in these kinds of divine plans but I’m convinced he was a part of mine. I’m sure we’d both laugh if we could discuss it. Though it seemed like a failure at the time, I’m actually glad that I didn’t become that crackerjack sales person that both of us wanted me to be. If I had, I might have made more money but I would have given up a much richer life. Sometimes losing isn’t losing.
I moved on with my life and Kirk moved on to a variety of other jobs as well. He even started his own company. He also became interested in motorcycles and started the Mother Road Ride Rally--an event that covers the length of the famous Route 66. You can still buy his book–more of a diary really–on Amazon. I suspect he was as much fun to be around on a motorcycle as he was when sailing and I’m sure there were many good times for all involved.
Kirk would eventually die of lung cancer in 2002 though he had quit smoking many years earlier. (obit here) I’m thankful that I knew him for those few years and I choose to remember him as that wickedly funny, amusing, and delightfully witty “Flying Dutchman.”