James Alexander KIRKWOOD

January 14, 1933September 17, 2020

It is with heavy hearts that the family announces the passing of Jim Kirkwood on September 17, 2020 at Toronto Western Hospital at the age of 87. Beloved husband of Marion (nee Woods) for over 63 wonderful years. Cherished father of Paul (Wendy Gilliam 2019), Jane (Larry), Joy, and Ken (Don). Caring brother to Shirley Funk. Uncle to Steven, Pam, Michael, Deane, Doug, David, Mark and Karen. Adored grandpa to Laurena (Colin), Micaela, Mariana and Roslyn.

Jim was dedicated to social justice in his work as a minister with the United Church of Canada, working in Marsden, Saskatchewan and Zambia, and finally as an executive secretary for Africa in the division of World Outreach, United Church of Canada.

Jim retired in 1993 and continued his humanitarian work within communities of justice focused on the environment, women's rights, anti-racism, Two-Spirit and LGBTQ rights, people with different abilities, Indigenous sovereignty, Arts advocacy and food security. He is recognized as an ally and/or mentor by many individuals and community groups from diverse intersectionalities. “Ubuntu – I am because we are.” An avid outdoorsman, athelete, coach, conservationist, birdwatcher and armchair philosopher, raised around farms where his European forefolk settled in Ballinafad, Ontario in the 1800's, Jim was strongly connected to the land and guided by the adages 'think globally, act locally', and 'live simply so others may simply live.' As per Jim's wishes, cremation has already taken place. In his memory, donations can be made to Community Living Toronto, the United Church of Canada (for work in Africa), or simply plant a tree or a garden and love the Earth.

Condolences can be left online at


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James Alexander KIRKWOOD

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Janet MacPherson

October 8, 2020

Marion and family, I want to send you my sincere sympathy in your loss of Jim although he will always be a part of your life.
I have many memories of him during the ten years we both worked at the Division of World Outreach. Jim had such a wonderful commitment to the people and churches of Africa. One funny memory I have of him is when I accompanied him on a trip to Africa and the car got stuck in the mud. It was decided that Jim and the other man would push and I would drive. In spite of much pushing, the car wouldn't move. I was not popular when it was discovered that I hadn't released the parking brake!
My love and prayers are with you.

Nancy MacLennan

October 7, 2020

Marion and family.
I knew Jim when he was a student minister at Deer Park Church in Toronto. As a teen I was a member of the Youth Group. Under Jim"s guidance this group grew to over 30 teens who followed Jim's lead to venture out of the church into social outreach. Jim was a true leader who was well loved.
He will be missed.
Nancy MacLennan (nee Vokes)

Eric Bacon

October 7, 2020

Dear Kenny:

I wish to extend my condolences to you in the passing of your father. His significant contribution to the life and work of the United Church is much admired by his colleagues.

Kenny, I would also like to take this opportunity to say that your musical presentations at LPCC are very much missed.

(Rev.) Eric

Marilyn Kirkwood Coxe

October 6, 2020

The family of the late Harvey and Marjorie Kirkwood (Harvey was a cousin of Jim's) were very saddened to hear of Jim's passing. Jim was a much respected family member and we anticipated a good visit whenever we saw him and we were never disappointed. We greatly respected his work in Africa and on social justice issues. More people like him would make this world a better place. He was a beloved son of the Ballinafad community and as a guest minister, his visit to the United Church was always a special day. Condolences to Marion and the rest of his family on your great loss.

Ann Slater

October 4, 2020

Marion, Paul, Jane, Joy, Kenny and the rest of the family,
I am so sorry for your loss. But I know that Jim's spirit and commitment to making the world a more just, more caring place lives on in so many of us. I am sure the many car loads of frozen meat and fresh produce Jim and Marion carried back to Toronto from the Slater farm played a role in my decision to spend my life growing food for the local community. Jim was very much someone who challenged us all to think globally and act locally. He made the world a better place.

Shehnaz Ali

October 4, 2020

Marian, Bill and I were saddened to hear of this terrible loss to you, your family and your community. We fondly remember Jim as a warm, kind and thoughtful person. In 1994, we asked Jim to officiate at our wedding, which he kindly agreed to do. I remember how skilled Jim was at making my parents and family from Trinidad & Tobago feel comfortable at our somewhat unusual nuptials on the farm. He was so good at that "task", that Jim then went on to officiate the weddings of two other Slater kids (Sarah and Stew), with his same, uncanny ability to connect with people. We heard similar stories about Jim when we visited Zambia in 2014, and about his commitment to social justice and to community. We hope these memories provide some measure of comfort in celebration of Jim’s life; a life well lived.

Shehnaz & Bill

Stew Slater

October 2, 2020

Such wonderful memories of visits to the farm by Jim and Marion and various family members and/or visitors from afar. Jim was the kindest, most compassionate person I've known, always interested in what I was up to -- both as a child, and as I grew to adulthood. I recall only once when he appeared to get angry: a day when his father had climbed onto a wagon while we were loading sheaves, and I popped the clutch on the tractor and jerked the wagon. But years later, when I mentioned this day to Jim, he recalled it differently, and insisted that I hadn't done anything wrong. Sending prayers to you all.

Rev. George Lavery

October 1, 2020

To Marion and family,

As a former colleague of Jim's in DWO, I want to offer my sincere condolences to you and your family at this time. I remember Jim as the excellent caring and committed Area Secretary for Africa, and my responsibility was with our Overseas Personnel. He made an outstanding contribution in so many ways throughout his life. Thanks be to God for his discipleship and witness! May the steadfast love of God continue to sustain and uphold you all during this time of grief, as we all celebrate and give thanks for the life of Jim. George Lavery

Matt Bere

September 29, 2020

I am very sorry to hear that Jim has left us. We have lost a man of God and a great advocate of social justice. May he Rest In Peace!
I will always remember his passion for Africa and his continuous desire to keep people in Canada and around the world properly informed about what is happening on the continent and to do something to contribute to change. His life has just been a testimony not only to the Gospel but also universally shared values of solidarity and compassion! May his gentle soul Rest In Peace and his life testimony inspire others!

Mary Janet van den Bergh

September 29, 2020

Dear Marion,

How sorry I am to hear that Jim has died. What a wonderful life you shared together. My sincerest condolences.

Mary Janet


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