David Barclay Kirby

June 15, 1924 – March 15, 2014

David Kirby, a Bay Area public relations executive who started and managed Hewlett-Packard's corporate PR department for 27 years, has died at age 89. He died on March 15 at the Sequoias in Portola Valley surrounded by family and friends.

Dave was born in San Francisco in 1924. He grew up in Ross in Marin County and attended Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley. During World War II he served in France and Germany as a staff sergeant in the 89th Infantry Division, a unit of General Patton's Third Army. After VE Day he served six months as an Army administrator in Paris.

Following the war, Dave attended the University of California at Berkeley, graduating in 1949 with honors in journalism. During his senior year he was sports editor of the Daily Californian and president of Sigma Nu fraternity. He also was a member of several campus societies, including Golden Bear, Skull and Keys, Beta Beta, and the Fraternity Scholastic Honor Society.

Following graduation, Dave worked as a copy editor on the San Francisco News, at that time one of four daily papers in the city. He later gravitated to public relations, serving first on the PR staff of Bechtel Corporation, then the Wine Institute, Kaiser Aluminum, and the L. C. Cole Co., an advertising/public relations agency in San Francisco.

In 1962 he was asked by David Packard, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard, to start a public relations department for the company. Over the years the department grew steadily under Dave's direction, and when he retired in 1989, it had offices and staff in all major countries throughout the world.

Following his retirement, Dave provided writing and editing assistance to David Packard for Packard's book, The HP Way. Published in 1995, the book describes the origins of the Hewlett-Packard Company, the management philosophies and policies guiding its growth and success.

Over the years Dave was active in a number of civic and community organizations, including the Palo Alto YMCA and Avenidas, the Palo Alto senior center.

In 1960 Dave married Anne Nicolas, who had moved from her native Minneapolis to San Francisco a few years earlier. They married shortly after Anne had served on the public relations staff of the 1960 Olympic Winter Games in Squaw Valley, CA. When Dave went to work for Hewlett-Packard, they moved to Palo Alto and lived there for more than 48 years. When Anne predeceased him in 2010, Dave moved to the Sequoias retirement community in Portola Valley, where he lived until his death.

Dave is survived by his three children; sons Daniel (Sheree) of San Jose and John of Portland, OR, and daughter Rachel Fitzgibbon (Robert) of Essex, MA. Also surviving are five granddaughters and a step grandson.

Dave was an eighth generation American. In 1635 his English ancestor, Joseph Kirby, left Rowington, a small village near Warwick and immigrated to America, settling in Hartford, CT.

A private memorial celebration of Dave's life will be held the afternoon of Tuesday, April 22. Those wishing to attend please contact Rachel Fitzgibbon at davekirbymemorial@gmail.com by April 8. Memorial gifts to Pathways Hospice Foundation, Sunnyvale will be appreciated.

 

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