James Keck VanKirk

James Keck VanKirk, M.D., 83, of Fort Valley passed away Friday, July 31, 2015 at his farm surrounded by family.  On October 12th, James’ five children will hold a memorial service before God at the VanKirk Farm in loving memory and honor of their parents’ lives together.  Please contact the family at vankirk@shentel.net for more information.

Born November 26, 1931 in West Newton, Pennsylvania, James was son of the late John and Anna Katherine Keck VanKirk. James first met Elizabeth Pickering in his undergraduate English class at the University of Pittsburgh, and both graduated in 1953.  Three years later, in August of 1956, James Keck VanKirk married Elizabeth Perkins Pickering.  A year later, in 1957, James received his Doctorate of Medicine from the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine.  Following his internship, he served as an officer in the Public Health Service, moving his growing family first to California, then to Alaska.  In 1960, his service complete, he settled into the community of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, joining Dr. David Rahauser in general medical practice.  Ever devoted to his patients, “Dr. Jim” became a fixture in the Chambersburg community, delivering babies, making house calls, and admitting patients to the hospital.  He lived and worked there for thirty-six years with his devoted wife, Elizabeth, steadfastly by his side raising their five children.

In 1996, Elizabeth and James retired to their beloved family farm. They remained active, as always, in their church, and James volunteered at the Saint Luke Community Clinic in Front Royal while Elizabeth gave her time and effort to the Fort Valley library.  In the last few years of James’ life, Elizabeth having passed away, you might have found him driving his pickup around the farm counting cattle, lying on his couch watching college basketball, or perhaps offering occasional medical advice to a visiting neighbor or friend.

Surviving are Randy and Kathy Storm of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, Andy and Becky Neslund of Anchorage, Alaska, Jim and Tricia VanKirk of Veazie, Maine, Jon and Meg Reneslacis of Cumming, Georgia, and Bob and Susan VanKirk of Allen, Texas, nineteen grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Memorial contributions can be made to a charity of choice.

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10 Condolences to James Keck VanKirk

  1. Murray Selby says:

    I have known Jim since 1955, Always a good man . My kids helped with the hay, Swam in the pond, Always let us hunt, He will be sorely missed, Our hearts and prayers go out the the Family of this good friend and neighbor, Heaven gained a good one.
    Murray , Madeline Selby…

  2. Dorothy Wauls says:

    Thoughts And Prayers Are With You All On The Loss Of This Very Special Member Of Your Family. He Was Our Family Doctor While in Chambersburg Penna. And Was The Greatest .
    Dorothy Wauls And Family

  3. Gay Walker says:

    Your family is in my thoughts and prayers. Kathy and I were school mates. I have very fond memories of the farm and your family from our junior and high school years. God bless you all.

  4. Kathy (Hogle) Peiffer says:

    Jim, so sorry to hear of your loss. Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Kathy

  5. Marie Royce says:

    My sincerest sympathy to the family. Dr. VanKirk was a wonderful man. I worked with him at Chambersburg Hospital. He was always very pleasant and easy-going. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  6. Sid & Ellen Palmer says:

    To Jim and Betty’s Family – Jim and Betty had been long-time faithful friends to our family. We remember all the good times and warm memories created over a life time. We send out deepest sympathy and our love with continuing prayers to their children and families. Sidney and Ellen Palmer

  7. Vickie Portner Cook says:

    I remember Dr. VanKirk as our doctor at Scotland School. Was always very good to us. On behalf of the SSVC Alumni our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  8. Betsy Comfort Palmer says:

    Sorry to hear of Jim’s death. The last time I saw him was at a cousin reunion at Aunt Dot’s apartment. It was a joyous event.

  9. Greg and Cheryl Aukamp says:

    Dear Kathy, Becky, Jim, Meg and Bob–and families
    So many fond memories growing up with your family! Even when we had to fill the bucket with dandelions, we knew there was fun to follow! And we knew we better go to sleep once we heard that garage door open late at night-cause your Dad was home from the office!
    During this time of sadness but also laughter as you reminisce, keep looking up! When my Dad died in 1989 your folks kept our son Zach during the services. What a blessing they were to our family. Psalm 121 was shared by Bill and Linda Harter at that time and since has become my favorite chapter in the Bible.
    Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.
    Cheryl Carr Aukamp and husband Greg