Obituary: Theresa Kirke

Beloved grandmother, tireless volunteer, longtime Claremonter

Theresa Kirke died in Lafayette, California on August 2, 2021 after suffering from advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Theresa Marie Dwyer was born in Quincy, Massachusetts on May 5, 1939. She was the youngest of six, and carried fond memories of her New England upbringing throughout her life. She earned a scholarship to Emmanuel College in Boston, where she earned a degree in mathematics. In 1961, she joined her retired parents in California. She accepted a position at General Dynamics in Pomona, where she met Bill Kirke.

They were married in 1963 and made their home in Claremont. They lived there for more than 35 years, raising their children, Jeanne and John, as well as numerous animal companions.

Theresa, aka Terry, enjoyed sewing, cooking, and gardening. She volunteered extensively at her children’s schools and for their extracurricular activities. She was the president of the PTA equivalent at Foothill Country Day School. When her children were grown, she served as the volunteer coordinator for Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center’s Cancer Center. She was publicly recognized for her service when she was deemed volunteer of the year by the Cancer Center.

In 2000, the couple moved to Fort Bragg, California, where they lived in a Victorian near the ocean, a setting that reminded her of her youth in New England. They had a good life in retirement for several years. To their neighbors’ delight, at Christmastime she would place a lit candle in every window of their notable home.

She became certified to teach tai chi classes, and volunteered at the Chinese medicine clinic at The Stanford Inn in Mendocino, where she made a wonderful group of friends. Most of all, she especially enjoyed visits from her children and grandchildren.

Predeceased in 2019 by her loving husband of 55 years, Bill, she spent her final years near family in the San Francisco Bay Area. During that time, she received the most loving and compassionate care from her caregivers at her memory care home and from Hospice of the East Bay, most notably her favorite caregiver Jo Jo, and her hospice nurse Vanessa.

She is survived by her beloved sister, Patricia O’Donnell and brother-in-law Jim; daughter Jeanne; son John and daughter-in-law Teresa; grandchildren Shannon, Isabel, Jackson, Aly and Tessa; and several nieces and nephews.

A burial service was held in Fort Bragg on August 12, 2021.


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