Dr. James Ellison Kirkley Sr., 65, of Gloucester Point, died Sept. 22, 2011 at his home after a three-year battle with lung cancer.
Dr. Kirkley was a professor of Marine Science with VIMS, College of William and Mary. He received a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D., all from the University of Maryland. He also served in the Air Force.
His primary research interest was in Marine Resource Management, Economic Development, Utilization of Coastal and Marine Resources, and Economics Impact Analysis. Jim worked as a fisheries economist with the National Marine Fisheries Service before coming to VIMS in 1987. Jim started out in the Marine Advisory Service Program and in the early ’90s, he became a member of the New England Fishery Management Council’s Scallop Plan Development Team. Jim’s pioneering analysis on limited entry and effort reduction strategies were incorporated in a new fisheries management plan that is the basis for much of today’s management foundations for the scallop resource. Today, the Sea Scallop Fishery is one of the most successful, best managed and profitable fishery in the U.S. He later moved into the Department of Coastal and Ocean Policy, which he chaired from 2001-2005. Jim was an excellent mentor and was a major advisor for three Ph.D. and seven M.S. students and served as a member on many graduate student committees. Dr. Kirkley’s research was broadly focused on fisheries economics, and his contributions included studies of the sea scallop fishery, methods to define and measure capacity in fisheries, the economic impact of Pfisteria, economic valuations of Virginia’s marine commercial and recreational fisheries, and, most recently, a study of the economic importance and value of the menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay region. Jim was one of the first economists to develop a methodology for a comprehensive economic impact analysis on recreational and commercial fisheries. His landmark analysis on the importance of Virginia’s recreational and commercial fisheries is still widely referenced. Over the course of his career, he produced more than 75 peer-review publications, co-authored a book, and produced many reports and technical manuals. Dr. Kirkley had extensive advisory service responsibilities including service to the Virginia Marine Resource Commission, the fishery management councils, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. In 2005, Dr. Kirkley received the prestigious National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Environmental Hero Award. Throughout Jim’s battle with cancer, he remained upbeat and incredibly productive.
He was an avid fisherman, an amazing Boogie Boarder, and had the best sense of humor, even better than George Carlin himself. He was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, and friend, and will be so dearly missed.
He is survived by his loving wife and best friend, Kathleen Kirkley; daughters, Kelley Marie Kirkley Blake and her husband Harris, Kara Michelle Kirkley Perkins and her husband Brad, Krista Megan Kirkley; son, James Ellison Kirkley Jr.; grandchildren, James Dylan Blake, Kylie Addison Blake, Zachary James Perkins, Kingston Kirkley Perkins, and his canine best friend Chiller.
He was also an extremely devoted son to his mother, Alvera Riley, who herself passed away on August 30. Our dad was a hero to us all and will remain so throughout the rest of our existence.
A Celebration of Life began at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at Riverwalk Landing at Yorktown, Va.
We would like to extend our heartfelt appreciation to Riverside PCI Cancer Center and to the wonderful Hospice Staff, who were so kind and caring to my dad as well as our entire family during this most difficult time. We could not have gotten through this without them as well as our loyal friends and extended family.
We hope he is out there riding the biggest wave ever on his Boogie Board and smiling down on us all.
In memory of Dr. Kirkley, please make donations to the James E. Kirkley Sr. Memorial Student Award Fund, Attention: Kirkley Memorial, VIMS, P.O. Box 1346, Gloucester Point, Va. 23062.