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Obituary (TX): John Kirby Ewing '45

Posted on 07/18/2018

John Kirby Ewing  (1923-2018)

John Kirby Ewing passed away surrounded by loved ones at his home in Houston, Texas on July 15, 2018.

John Kirby was born April 23, 1923 in Mercedes, Texas. He is survived by his loving wife, Virginia Wilson Ewing of 47 years, his son Steven Calder Ewing, his daughter Charlotte Kelty Crain (Ewing) and her husband Rogers Crain, daughter Holly Ewing and her husband Terry Sander, and daughter Robin Hulver. He loved all of his grandchildren Rogers Crain, Lawson Crain, Alexander and Betty Crain, Cameron Sander, and Virginia Prout. He was preceded in death by his beloved sister, Barbara (Bywaters) Hildebrand and mother Edna Olson. He leaves behind many other beloved family members.

He became an Eagle Scout, played on the varsity football team at Donna High school (won district title), and graduated Valedictorian.

He took competitive exams and won the appointment to the United States Naval Academy where he was named Plebe Company Commander. He was seriously injured playing freshman football. He returned to Texas where he attended The University of Texas and graduated with a BA in Economics and Finance. He was a member of Kappa Alpha Fraternity and Silver Spurs.

He worked for David Bintliff who was financing many of the major projects in Houston. Mr. B put him in charge of loans to finance St. Luke's Hospital, Methodist Hospital, Memorial Hospital, Heights Hospital, and made him responsible for progress reports of the construction of the Shamrock Hotel. He managed the Kress and Sterling buildings, many commercial properties along Post Oak including Post Oak Plaza. He assembled the property for Phillips Petroleum Company on which the petrochemical plant was built. For the last 10 years, he has very successfully served as President of BLM Pipeline Company.

John Kirby was active in so many organizations and made a profound difference in the lives of many Houstonians. He was president of the Mental Health Association of Houston, and Harris County when he persuaded Saks Fifth Avenue to completely underwrite the Texas Association for Mental Health fundraiser, the "Galaxy Ball," with Ms. Ima Hogg as sponsor and together they raised a record amount of funds. He served on the Public Affairs Committee of NAMH. John Kirby served on the board of the Houston Red Cross where he started the first program to train volunteers in CPR. With the help of the Junior League, they certified 1700 new trainees in one day. He served 33 years on the board of the Sam Houston Area Council Boy Scouts, as Chairman of Friends of Scouting drive, Vice President of the Council, and he received the Silver Beaver Award. He was an active member of Kiwanis for about 58 years. His work as President and General Chairman of the International Kiwanis Convention (Houston 1986) was the largest convention at that time. He organized the Can Festival for the Houston Food Bank. He was awarded the Distinguished Life Award at St. Luke's Methodist Church where he taught adult Sunday school for 31 years.

We especially thank Maria Gill and Delia Reyes for the extraordinary care, help and love they gave to keep him comfortable.

To celebrate John Kirby's extraordinary life, a memorial service will be held at St. Luke's United Methodist Church at 3471 Westheimer Road Houston, TX on Wednesday, July 18th at three o'clock in the afternoon with the Reverend Tom Pace officiating.

In Lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Sam Houston Area Boy Scouts of America online at or by mail at 2225 N Loop W, Houston, TX 77008; or St. Luke's Methodist Church.

Published in Houston Chronicle from July 17 to July 18, 2018