HUNT COLUMN: A Prince of a Gentleman

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, July 12, 2023

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By Cathy Hunt
Retired Troup County teacher and current school board member

Three weeks ago, we received the shocking news of the sudden death of our former school board colleague and leader, Kirk Hancock, at the much-too-young age of 59. This past weekend, we attended his memorial service. His passing is a tremendous loss to his family, friends, and the various communities he served.

Kirk and I first became acquainted when I taught his daughter at Troup High School. Then we were in the second cohort of Racial Trust Building training together and had opportunities to discover things we had in common besides wanting to improve relationships in our community. We were both products of the DeKalb County school system of the late 70s/early 80s, we both had two children who were graduates of Troup High School, and we both loved reading.

It was also there that we talked about our interest in running for school board. We both did so the following year and officially became new board members in January of 2017 along with Brandon Brooks and Joe Franklin. The four of us developed mutually supportive relationships as we had some trial-by-fire moments in the years that followed. We all wished he would run again in 2020, but he had different plans for his life in retirement, plans that would continue to keep him busy in service to others – in Nicaragua, one of the countries where he had done mission work previously. He and his wife Ruth loved their farm in Troup County but also fell in love with Nicaragua. He had regularly called, emailed, and texted ever since moving to check in, congratulate, share reading material, and offer encouragement, which was especially meaningful when I became board chair after he left. His most recent email came on June 7, letting me and Brandon know about a virtual workshop we might be interested in. Just because he had relocated didn’t mean he stopped caring about all things Troup County, especially the school system.

Kirk was chairman of the school board for three of his four years of service. We kept re-electing him because he was a natural leader as well as extremely smart and knowledgeable. He helped me understand finance, and I helped him understand the field of education. He invested a lot of time and energy into gathering information and making things happen. Ruth said recently that she would often wake in the middle of the night to find that he was in another room working on school board stuff. He took his position very seriously.

He was always a gentleman but could be as firm as necessary in tricky situations. I always appreciated the way he would call to ask my opinion about something or give me a pep talk when I needed one.

There was big crowd at Rosemont Baptist Church on Saturday to pay their respects. I had not known Kirk for nearly as long as many of the attendees had, but it was long enough to know that he was a very special person and that I will miss his presence in my life. He was a man of faith and integrity and made a difference wherever he went.

Another board member has called him “a prince of a gentleman,” which is so true. And there’s no doubt he has earned his crown in heaven. Rest in peace, my friend.