Ellis Funeral Home


John Rounseville Kirwan

August 1, 1924November 22, 2017

John Rounseville Kirwan went home to be with our Heavenly Father, his beloved wife Carolyn, and cherished son Daniel the day before Thanksgiving, November 22, 2017. John was born August 1, 1924 in Oak Park, Illinois to Mathew Joseph and Odanah Kirwan. John was the youngest of three siblings and grew up in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. John loved sharing colorful stories of growing up in this bustling town including overnight campouts in the wilderness with friends, trick or treating at Frank Philips house for silver dollars, and meeting Will Rogers. John was a natural athlete and played varsity basketball, tennis, and golf in school. He graduated from Bartlesville High School in 1942. John attended one year of Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota before joining the United States Naval Reserve training program in Winona Minnesota at St. Mary's College for active duty. After one year, he was sent to Asbury Park, New Jersey for pre-midshipmen school. From there, John was sent to Northwestern University in Chicago where he received his commission as an Ensign. Next, He was sent to Miami, Florida to Navy Sub Chaser School where he completed his training. John reported to duty in the South Pacific where he served as Captain on the ocean going tug #A TA 175, which aided mighty war ships in distress all over the Pacific. One of such was a large floating dry dock as large as two football fields. It had been in a typhoon in which only 10 members survived. John and crew towed the vessel and remaining crew all the way back to Seattle Washington for repair. John received an honorable discharge the United Stated Navy in 1945 with the rank of Lieutenant j g. He lovingly joked that his sister Mary always outranked him. Everyone so enjoyed listening to John's World War II memories. John loved to recall how he tried for weeks to get the movie Yankee Doodle Dandy with James Cagney and finally was able to show it under the stars, at sea for the crew. He also shared on occasion, always with a twinkle in his eye, that a fighter plane had to radio in "whoever is flying a kite off the back of the ship needs to pull it in immediately." John returned to Carleton College to play basketball and complete his degree in history and English. He attended the University of Texas receiving his law degree in 1949. He was then employed by Cities Service Oil Company in Fort Worth, serving in the legal department. While working as a young lawyer in Fort Worth, John met Carolyn Ecker. The first time he met her he went home and told his roommate he met the gal he was going to marry. Carolyn become his forever Valentine on February 14, 1954. John was transferred to Midland in 1956 where together they raised their five children. John left Cities Service in 1968 and to join the law firm of Perkins & Kirwan with his brother Matt and Col. John Perkins. John was known in his profession for his sharp, analytical mind and understanding of complex matters. More than that, he was admired by all for his honesty and fairness. John was a lifelong conservative but listened to all sides and respected all points of view. John was a member and served as President (several times) of Children of the American Revolution (CAR) He was also a long time member of Midland County Bar Association and Midland for America. John practiced oil and gas law for over 60 years completing countless Title Opinions for longtime clients. John was an avid athlete his entire life. He was a member of the YMCA for well over 50 years. Working out was as part of his daily routine as going to work. He played competitive basketball there and was a team member of George W. Bush. Though John was smaller and older, he was a force on the court. John served as President of the Midland Racquet Club. He also served on the Board of Directors of Schreiner College in 1974 and 1975. John was strong tennis player. He won the Midland Tennis Club Championship with his dear friend Miguel Bustilloz in 1978. John became passionate about running and ran his first marathon at age 55 and kept an eight-minute pace. He ran many marathons, his favorite being the New York Marathon so he could also visit his wife's family. He ran New York six times and recalled shouting to the crowd and high fiving "Brooklyn, Texas, and Heaven" He was also quite proud he made the qualifying time for the Boston Marathon. John credited his friend Doc Dodson for training him and keeping him fit. John into his eighties still rode his bike to Odessa and back, then ran six miles, swam two miles, and would remark to his family "I don't know why I'm so tired." John Kirwan had a lot of important accomplishments in 93 years but his greatest by far was Patriarch. John was the most faithful husband, loving brother and son, and devoted father and grandfather. He was the strong foundation that held the Kirwan family together. John and Carolyn both oversaw the specialized care of John's brother Matt when he suffered a tragic accident and again when his sister Mary need assistance. John was active in raising his five children and especially dedicated himself to improving the physical condition of his special needs son Daniel. They became Midland celebrities as they attended every sporting event together in town over the years. John and Daniel also ran every local fun run together and competed in several triathlons. As a family, The Kirwans were members of Midland Community theater for decades, attended Globe Theater, and Permian Playhouse Production. John was a friend to all and all age groups found him interesting and could relate to him. When asked how he was he always replied "nicely, nicely thank you." John was an eloquent speaker and perfected his presenting skills by being a member of Toastmasters. His sons remember being his "audience" as he practiced his speeches. John Kirwan was the true definition of a true gentleman. He was soft spoken and patient and always had a kind word. John and all the children and grandchildren spent a lot of time at their second home in Cloudcroft, New Mexico and made many memories there. John enjoyed being a member of Community Bible Study (CBS) where he strengthened his faith in the Lord and studied the Bible in its entirety - more than once. John was a lifelong Episcopalian. He was a member of Holy Trinity Church for many years. Later in life, Monsignor Bridges welcomed him into St. Stephens Catholic Church so he could worship at last with his bride, a devoted Catholic. In John's later years, he looked forward to weekly communion and visits from Christ Church Anglican. He was truly thankful to his dear friend Bob Bledsoe and all who are part of this important ministry to bring the word of the Lord and peace to the homebound. He enjoyed visits from Chuck Howbert and eating lunch up until age 93 with his old doubles partner, Carvel Mills John is survived by his son, John M. Kirwan - wife, Sharon, and John's daughter, Shay Moore, husband Brian, daughters Alyssa and Audrey and son Joshua, John's son Mathew - daughters Lexie, Evie and Taylor and son Kayden and John's daughter Laura, son Tip Kirwan - wife Brenda and son Thomas Taylor and his wife Faith, daughter Caroline Kirwan - daughter Catherine Eberhard her daughter Carolyn and Caroline's son Christopher his wife Holli Jo and their son Logan, daughter Kathleen Kirwan - Haynie- husband Scott sons Hunter, Christian and daughter Grace, and a cousin Harry Lacey. John is proceeded in death by his wife of nearly 63 years, Carolyn; his beloved son, Daniel; his parents; brother, Matt; sister, Mary; his dearest friends, Van Howbert and Sue and Les Berry; and so many more precious friends and family. Visitation will be held Monday, November 27, 2017 from 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. at Ellis Funeral Home. A celebration of John's life will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 at Christ Church Anglican, 5501 N. Midkiff Rd. Midland Texas by Father Jonathon Hartzer. Burial will follow at Resthaven Memorial Park. The Kirwan/Haynie family wishes to offer our sincerest gratitude to Martha Ramirez and her team of caregivers for their tender care, love, and compassion you gave not only our Dad but also to our Mother, Daniel, and the rest of our family the last several years. We are truly grateful for the prayers, love, and support during this difficult yet glorious time. Memorial donations can be made to Senior Link Midland (Meals On Wheels.) John R. Kirwan was a hero to all who knew him - in War, in business, in athletics, in family, and in faith, and will continue to be through his amazing legacy he created. Arrangements are under direction of Ellis Funeral Home. Condolences may be offered at


  • Visitation

    Monday, November 27, 2017

  • Funeral Service

    Tuesday, November 28, 2017


John Rounseville Kirwan

have a memory or condolence to add?

Andy Shaffer

December 5, 2017

Quite a man - truly part of the "Greatest Generation." Rest well, old sailor.

Briggs Donaldson

November 30, 2017

John was a very interesting man with a sharp wit and an incredible memory. He prepared a lot of Title Opinions for Jim Purvis over the years and when I began working for Mr. Purvis in 1997, I would often visit Mr. Kirwan at his office. His office was a time capsule packed with books, pictures, cartoons and other collectibles that I yearned to investigate every time I visited. He had such an incredible memory, I was always shocked and intrigued to hear him talk about title to land about which he hadn't even thought in 20 years as if he had worked on it the day before. He was such kind and gentle man and a great teacher. I have missed discussing title issues with him since he retired and will miss him even more now that he is no longer with us. God Bless the Kirwan family.

Beth Rodgers Murphy

November 30, 2017

Tip and John: I am so sorry to read about the loss of your father. Though I did not know him, he must have been quite a man because you turned out to be two wonderful gentlemen. May he rest in peace with your mother and Daniel.

Terri Moran

November 29, 2017

John, I'm so sorry for your loss. Sending you comforting hugs and prayers. What an amazing man and legacy. You are so blessed!

Frank Ecker

November 27, 2017

Uncle John yes you are home with aunt Carolyn and was great to see you when I was last in and your family always in my prayers
Frank Ecker jr

Thomas T Kirwan

November 27, 2017

Our Grandfather, Papa as we called him, was a constant source of adoration for us growing up. He had the sharpest memory and wit, was the gentlest person, and never ran out of time to spend with us. He is already sorely missed; we are glad to have had such a great man as him to call Grandfather/Papa.

Shane Snelson

November 26, 2017

Growing up on Shell Street across from the Kirwans, I fondly remember Mr. Kirwan as a kind man and a role model. I remember holidays in Cloudcroft, and he always took the time to have a conversation with everyone about their interests. I ran two half-marathons this year, which I probably would not have done without the example provided by Mr. Kirwan running through the neighborhood. My condolences to the family.

November 26, 2017

i am sorry for the loss of mr kirwan. I enjoyed his friendship for years playing tennis at the racquet club, and appreciated his wisdom, integrity, and dedication ---to his family, fitness, and profession. ....bobby vogel


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