Worth it all

Published 11:55 am Wednesday, October 29, 2008

As speaker after speaker appropriately talked about the trials and triumphs of the now formally dedicated Charles H. Kirbo Regional Center at Bainbridge College Sunday, one speaker was more forthright—Bruce Kirbo Sr.

“I’m not here to tell you about the building. I’m here to tell you about Charlie,” Bruce said of his older brother.

And tell he did—he told of Charles being a war hero; a father figure to his younger brother and the other six siblings; a visionary who saw to it that Bainbridge would have a junior college, and how he refused to back down from those who fought it because black students and white students might be attending the same college.

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Charles H. Kirbo, who is now deceased, was the kind of gentleman who those who known him were lucky, and those who didn’t know him, wished they had.

Bruce Kirbo said he had two fathers—Ben, who died when Bruce was 18 years old, and Charles, who ensured that Bruce received money to finish college. Charles would often call Bruce too, just to check up on him.

Bruce said his older brother served in the Army during World War II, but never talked about it. Charles landed in Normandy by glider during D-Day in 1944, and he and his Army company marched into Berlin near the end of the war. While Bruce was serving in the military, a soldier who served under Charles recognized the Kirbo name, and it was from that stranger Bruce learned of Charles’ service.

Jimmy Carter hired Charles to represent him in a case involving the counting of votes, and he won the case. The relationship lasted as Carter eventually was elected to the White House.

The legacy that Charles leaves with Bainbridge is his love for it. He made sure the county landed the college, and he ensured the college had the land to build on.

The only building to be officially named on Bainbridge College’s campus is named after Charles H. Kirbo.

And after a tumultuous past, the Charles H. Kirbo Regional Center is tremendous. It’s beautiful, it’s functional and its future holds much promise for the community and region.

But most important, it now deserves the name on it.

“I came here to let you know what a good man Charlie was.”

It’s all worth it now.