Archive for Thursday, June 9, 2005

Caretaker’s no grandpa, yet

June 9, 2005

Go ahead. Call Gene Kirby a grandpa. He doesn't mind.

As long as you mistake his wife, Debbie Kirby, as a grandma, too.

The couple have three children, ages 29, 26 and 4, and when they're all together, people often think the 4-year-old is the Kirbys' granddaughter.

The problem is that most of the time only Gene Kirby gets the grandparent label, he said.

"It doesn't bother me," he said. "I just wish it happened to both of us."

Gene Kirby still remembers the first time his wife was called a grandmother.

"I was thrilled," he said. "We were at a restaurant and our waiter told her she had a nice-looking granddaughter. I heard it, shook my fist and asked 'How you doing there, grandma?' Then she told me to shut up."

Other than the occasional case of mistaken identity, Gene Kirby said his 4-year-old daughter, Hannah, was a true blessing - even if it means he won't be able to retire as early as he once thought.

"My youngest daughter won't be 18 until I'm 65," he said. "And then there's college."

Luckily for Gene Kirby, he has a job he enjoys.

As manager of the Mount Muncie Cemetery, he gets to spend most of his time outdoors and meeting new people.

He spends so much time outside that he compares his job to working in a park. Only it's a little more work.

"It gets awful busy," he said. "People are just dying to get in here."

NAME: Gene Kirby

ADDRESS: 1500 N. Eighth St.

FAMILY: Wife, Debbie; daughters Nicole, 29, and Hannah, 4; son Casey, 26

OCCUPATION: Manager of Mount Muncie Cemetery

HOW LONG HAVE YOU WORKED IN LANSING AND WHAT BROUGHT YOU HERE? I've worked here for eight years. My job is what brought me here.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT LANSING? It's a small, nice town. I don't think I've met a bad person since I've been here.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX? I like to read. I don't have any favorite books. I read a lot of newspapers and try to stay current. I also have a garden now.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE ABOUT YOU? I don't know. The 4-year-old is a surprise. People who don't know me think I divorced my wife and married some hot young chick and had a baby.

WHAT'S THE BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED? Don't let your children buy their first car. If they buy it and need to go somewhere, you can't tell them no because it's their car.

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