Dr. Robert H. Kirk, 92, passed away September 25, 2023, in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Dr. Kirk joined the faculty at University of Tennessee in 1967 as an associate professor, and he later became the first African-American full professor in the university’s history to receive tenure and head a department at the school.
He taught in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. His training was at Fisk University with four graduate degrees from Indiana University. His doctorate was in health and safety, the DHS. He did postgraduate work at Michigan State and Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Kirk, hired to establish a safety program, instituted the movement to combine the health and safety programs at UT and to develop a comprehensive public health program, according to a short biography by Betsey B. Creekmore.
Dr. Kirk had many “firsts” over the years, many of which are outlined in his obituary here. In addition to his work in education, he established and operated Kirk’s Market and BBQ, Kirk’s Restaurant and Hilltop Garden and Nursery in Knoxville.
The family will greet friends from 5-6 p.m. today (10-2-23) at Lennon Seney United Methodist Church. Fraternity services will start at 6 p.m. followed by the funeral at 6:30. Interment will follow at East Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery, 2200 E. Gov. John Sevier Hwy. at 10 a.m. on Tuesday Oct. 3.