Billy Royce Kirkland

billy kirkland

Billy Royce (Kirk) Kirkland passed away into heaven to be with Jesus, Saturday, July 3, 2021.  Kirk was born in Cass County July 1, 1935, to his parents, Kittie Belle Harrod Kirkland and Ira Bernard Kirkland.  Billy was preceded in death by his parents, Kittie and Bernard; and four sisters, Josephine Kirkland, Melva Liles, Maurine McAlexander, Modena Pate, two infant twin brothers, Ron and Lon Kirkland; brothers-in-law, Ennis Liles, Loyd Pate, Wayne McAlexander and William Bridger.

Kirk is survived by his wife of forty-nine years, Suzanne Bridger Kirkland; son, Royce Alan and wife, Amy; daughter, Deronda Rene Baughman and husband, Thomas; son, Martin Randell and wife, Belinda; two granddaughters, Quincy Jodry and husband, Matthew, Taylor Stumberg; one sister-in-law. Jean Olson; and several nieces, nephews, family and friends.  His first great-granddaughter will be born in September to Quincy and Matt.

He graduated from Linden High School in 1953.  He enlisted in the Marines in December, 1954, and remarkably received three meritorious promotions for achievements.  While stationed in Hawaii, he boxed on the Marines' team and won a light middleweight championship.  After four years in the United States Marine Corps, he was honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant.  He enrolled at East Texas State University and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, and Bachelor of Science in Counseling and Guidance degree. He worked several years in the oil, chemical, and steel industries in Texas, New Mexico, and California before returning to earn a Master of Business Administration degree, Master of Secondary and Counseling degree, and a Doctorate degree from East Texas State University, Commerce, Texas.  Prior to receiving his degrees, he attended Texarkana Junior College, University of Mississippi, Sul Ross State University, and Morehead State University.

His first teaching assignments were Sul Ross State University, Alpine, Texas, and later Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky.  He served as Director of Business Programs at McClennan Community College, Waco, Texas, before he began teaching senior and graduate level courses at Tarleton State University, Stephenville, Texas.  He received recognition as "Teacher of the Year" in 1990; recognition of outstanding teaching service in support of the Charter Class Fort Hood MBA Program, 1995; the O.A. Grant Excellence in Teaching Award for the College of Business Administration in 2011; granted faculty Emeritus in Management, 2013; and Dr. Kirkland was recognized by the alumni as faculty Member of the Year in 2014. His volunteer work helped him earn the Masonic Lodge Community Builders Award as its outstanding citizen in 1995.  He was nominated as Outstanding Citizen of Erath County in February, 2004.

B. R. Kirkland was a life member of the American Legion and Marine Corps League and was active in both organizations.

Kirk served two terms as Commander of American Legion Turnbow-Higgs Post 240 (1996-1197) and (2005-2006) Stephenville, Texas, as well as the offices of first vice, historian, and adjutant.  He was honored as Legionnaire of the Year in 1994-1995, and Legionnaire of the Year 2003-2004.  He was active in presenting patriotic programs to schools in Erath County.  He established a Nursing Program for the American Legion Post 240 to visit and honor veterans with patriotic programs, flag dedications, certificate, recognitions, and weekly visits.  With his initiative, the post made the Nursing Program a priority, and Stephenville Post 240 was the first and only one in the state to have such a program when it began in 1997.  Another program Dr. Kirkland established was a 'Flag Watch" where he commended businesses which regularly fly the U.S. flag and encouraged the proper retirement of worn flags.  Frequently, B. R. wrote letters to the editor to encourage citizens to participate in upcoming patriotic events.  He participated in American Legion funeral details for veterans, flag dedication and disposal ceremonies, support of current members of the armed forces, flag etiquette programs, Memorial Day and Veterans Day events, and cemetery monument dedications.  He actively served in presenting patriotic programs to Erath County Schools and volunteered to coach students English as a Second Language to improve speaking, reading, and writing skills as part of community service.

He retired in May, 2011, completing forty years of teaching and serving in education.  After retirement, he and Suzanne (Bridge) returned to Linden to their native East Texas.

He became a member of Center Grove Baptist Church in June, 2011, and served as co-Sunday School teacher with Bridge at Center Grove Baptist Church and prior to that he was a member of Victory Baptist Church, Stephenville, Texas, from 1994-2011.

Kirk had a variety of passions, the greatest being his love for the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  His love and honor for America were expressed in the many patriotic activities he conducted for youth, adults, and the American Legion.  His beloved U.S. Marine Corps were heralded by him as being the driving force to instill his desire for achieving a college education.  His early life of growing up in the New Colony community gave fond memories he frequently shared with his family and friends.  He hunted all of the wooded areas of his parents' farm before and after he joined the Marine Corps.  He visited his childhood homeland in New Colony almost daily after his retirement until illness limited his activities.  Kirk was an avid reader of a variety of subjects, and he read daily from the Bible, the Marine Corps Times, and The week, a political magazine that Deronda introduced to him soon after retirement.

The depth of the pain we feel reflects the great love we have for you, dear Kirk.  We will miss our patriot, husband, father, and friend. Semper Fidelis. Semper Fi.


So let the bugle blow

Fire the evening gun

Slowly lower the colors

Your retirement has begun.

Services will be 2:00 p.m., Friday, July 9, 2021 at New Colony Baptist Church with Bro. T.J. Bolt officiating.  Burial to follow in the Corinth Cemetery under the direction of Reeder-Davis Funeral Home in Linden.

There will be a time of visitation one hour prior to the service.

In loving memory of our precious Kirk, donations can be made to: Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) NINDS Institute, P.O. Box 5801, Bethesda, Maryland 20824 or Billy's Church Home at: Center Grove Baptist Church, P.O. Box 1498, Linden, Texas 75563.


View current weather.

Memories Timeline


  1. Our deepest condolences go out to you Suzanne. We are truly sorry for your loss. Praying for you and your family. We love you.

  2. Suzanne, so sorry to hear of Kirk's passing. Prayers for peace and strength in the coming days.

  3. I was saddened to hear of Dr. Kirkland’s passing. He was my advisor at Tarleton State University (’97) and was influential in me choosing my Human Resources Management degree. He also served at two family members’ funeral services in Stephenville. Dr. Kirkland was a great man and one of the best professors I had. Condolences to his family.

  4. Rest in Peace Dr Kirkland. I am smiling thinking of you and your stories in class while at Tarleton and that massive handshake of yours. You were always larger than life and I’m grateful for the opportunity to have known you.

  5. I was raised in Linden and graduated from Linden High School but I remember Billy even though he was 3 years older than me. Proud to read that he was an educated man and a very patroit and served his country well.

  6. God bless you and peace be with you Bill. As your student, colleague, fellow veteran, and above all friend thank you for touching my life. I shall never forget you.

  7. Dearest Suzanne, my heart hurts to hear that our Dr. Kirkland is no longer with us. He had a huge impact on my life in my education and personal thoughts. I have always thought of you both very fondly and appreciate your friendship more than you can know. He is in Heaven now with our Father. I know you mourn his passing from this earth, and you have my most sincere condolences. I will keep you in my prayers. Nancy Bond

  8. Suzanne, this is Chad Procter, you taught me in 6th grade at Lingleville, sorry to hear about Bill, call or text me, 254-434-7992

Sign the Guestbook, Light a Candle

  1. Candle 1
  2. Candle 2
  3. Candle 3
  4. Candle 4
  5. Candle 5
  6. Candle 6
  7. Candle 7
  8. Candle 8