Cover photo for Donald "Joe" Kirkham's Obituary
Donald "Joe" Kirkham Profile Photo
1938 Joe 2024

Donald "Joe" Kirkham

February 21, 1938 — March 23, 2024


Donald “Joe” Kirkham 86, of Indianapolis, passed away peacefully at home March 23rd, 2024.  He was born February 21st, 1938 in Indianapolis to Harris Brown Kirkham and Bessie Mae Kirkham (Sherron).  He was the youngest of seven children.  

 Joe grew up on Indy’s East side near Irvington.   He graduated from Howe High School.   

He met Judy Hummel when he was 17 and she was 18 after a dance at Christian Park.  They married 2 years later, on June 15th 1957 and remained together until his death. 

 Joe was a proud union sheet metal worker for more than 30 years, working for Snodgrass Sheet Metal, Fulton Air Balance, and Bright Sheet Metal Co.  He was a member of the Sheet Metal Workers Local 20 and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART).

 Joe was a renaissance man of sorts who possessed a variety of interests and passions.  He loved rhythm and blues, rock and doo-wop music with Ray Charles being his idol. Joe had an eternally curious mind and loved the study of geometry and algebra, limerick poems, and basketball.  He had an impressive book and calculator collection. He also loved Sumner County Tennessee where he spent many a happy summer as a child. 

 Joes’ legacy will be that of kindness.  He was drawn to those who were less fortunate, forgotten, and marginalized. He led with humor and generosity.  He delighted in making others laugh and especially enjoyed being silly for children. 

 He was crazy mad about his two granddaughters Claire and Lodi (Lauren) and had not one objective thought about them. They were perfection in his mind.

 His greatest heartache was the sudden death of his beloved son Phil in the summer of 1997 from complications of Marfan’s Syndrome.

 Joe was happiest at home and had a deep fondness for his Oaklandon family, notably the Rogers, Doyle, and Swingle families.   He also loved his many nieces and nephews who live far and wide.  

 He was proceeded in death by his parents, brothers Everett, Dalton, Bernard, sisters Phyllis Holliday and Betty Thale, son Philip Kirkham.  He is survived by his wife Judy Kirkham, son Mark Kirkham, daughter DeDe Dianne Castillo (Daniel), granddaughters Claire Bear and Lodi Bell Castillo, and sister Ruthie Montgomery. 

 Your family was honored to care for you in your final months and hope you are now peddling the moon with your beloved boy Phil.

“In the Wild Blue Yonder Your Star is Fixed in My Sky”  


In Lieu of Flowers please consider donating to Marfan Foundation.

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Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, March 29, 2024

11:00am - 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Funeral Service

Friday, March 29, 2024

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

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After Service Meal

Friday, March 29, 2024

4:00 - 5:30 pm (Eastern time)

Oaklandon Unitarian Universalist Church

6450 Oaklandon Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46236

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