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Philanthropist Fred M. Kirby II, A Longtime Supporter of ISHOF, Passes Away

Fred M. Kirby II, a long-time friend and supporter who served as both a Director and Trustee of the International Swimming Hall of Fame and who was the 1986 recipient of ISHOF’s Gold Medallion, has passed away on February 8th, at the age of 91.

Kirby, was three sport varsity athlete at Lafayette College in swimming, wrestling and was a star on the school’s last undefeated football team. After graduation he served in the Navy during WWII, then attended Harvard Business School and went to work for a chemical company before succeeding his father as president of Alleghany, an insurance and investment company that produced a 15 percent annualized return for shareholders from the time he took the helm of the company in 1967 until he retired from the board in 2007 at the age of 88.


In 1967, he also succeeded his father as president of the Morristown, N.J. based F.M. Kirby Foundation, which has distributed millions of dollars in grants to groups in the family’s areas of interest, which include the arts, education, health and swimming.


Fred Kirby was honored by ISHOF with the Gold Medallion not only for his swimming accomplishments and his achievements in the world of business, but for his success as a mentor father to Alice, Fred, Dillard and Jefferson and four grandchildren - the children of a lifelong love affair with his wife Walker.


As a father, Fred Kirby never missed one of his four children's' swim meets. What this says about this titan of American industry is more than any singular tribute can say.  Business success comes to many, athletic success comes to special achievers, but true success as a human being comes to those who make a very special commitment to their loved ones and the world around them.


As per the family’s wishes, ISHOF will plant a tree on the Hall of Fame property in memory of Mr. Kirby on Arbor Day, Friday, April 29, 2011.

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