100 Things about William Alexander “Buck” Kirkland


1.  William Alexander Kirkland was born on 14 March 1913.

2.  He was born in Durham, North Carolina.

3/4.  His parents were Laurance Davies Kirkland and Susie Augusta Coley Kirkland.

5/6.  He had 2 older siblings:  Laurance Davies “Sonny” Kirkland Jr and Mary Rebecca “Mimi” Kirkland.


7.  He was the only one of the three Kirkland siblings born at the “new” Watts Hospital.  (His son and granddaughter were also born at Watts Hospital.)

8.  My uncle Sonny said my grandfather was the one who dubbed him Sonny and Mary Mimi.  (Mary’s friends called her Mary Kirk)

9.  Granddad’s nickname was Buck.

10.  He grew up at the house at 516 Holloway Street.


11.  His grandmother Mary Margaret Mock Coley lived with the family when he was growing up.

12.  For a time, so did a cousin — Margaret Brock.

13/14.  Granddad graduated from Durham High School in 1930.

15.  Granddad and I were the same height when we graduated high school.

16.  Granddad had beautiful handwriting.   Mom and I always ooh and aah over it.  His great-granddaughter Coley has similar handwriting.

17/18.  Granddad had dark brown hair and blue eyes.

19/20.  Granddad went to Davidson College and graduated in 1934.

21.  Dean Rusk was a senior when my grandfather came in as a freshman.

22.  Granddad was a member of Davidson’s ROTC.

23.  His senior year he was a member of Scabbard & Blade, a military fraternity.


24.  He went to a military training camp either during his time at Davidson or just after graduation (mentioned in a letter written by Sonny to their mother.)

25.  Granddad was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha.

26.  Granddad was on the PanHellenic Council.

27/28/29/30.  Granddad played basketball for his fraternity.  In 1933  his team won the Davidson inter-fraternity basketball championship.  He played forward (must’ve been a very short team).  He scored 4 of the team’s 36 points.

31.  Granddad had to wear a silly beanie his freshman year.  So glad Davidson did away with that!  LOL  Anyway, tradition was that the freshmen would burn their beanies.  Not Granddad.  He kept his.  Dad has it displayed on a bookshelf.

32.  One of his college friends was Dallas “Dal” Wehner


33.  He was ELECTED football manager for the 1933 season.

34.  He served on the Athletic Council his senior year.

35.  He was the secretary-class treasurer of his senior class.

36.  His thoughts on education at Davidson College:  “The first four years are the hardest.”  I do believe that everyone who goes to Davidson would wholeheartedly agree with this.

37. A Miss Laura Lyon of Durham was his date to a formal dance that was sponsored by the PanHellenic Council.

38.  Joe Bryant once sat on Granddad’s glasses.  Miraculously they did not break, but the lenses fell out of the frames.  Granddad put the lenses back in like it was no big deal.

39. Granddad, Joe Drake and John Hunter apparently were caught in an embarrassing situation at a shindig in Charlotte.  The Davidsonian made no mention of what they did, but did suggest that people to ask them about why their faces were question mark red.  Hmmmmm….

Buck and Helon-2

40. Granddad was one of three appointed to “investigate prices and select a tailor” for the making of the senior blazers.

41/42.  Granddad was ranked 43rd in his class.  He maintained an 85 or higher thru at least the first half of his senior year.

43.  Granddad was a member of the Davidson ROTC unit that won the R.O.T.C Cup in 1933, defeating 17 other schools.

44.  His R.O.T.C. rank at the time was 2nd Lieutenant of Company C.

45/46.  Granddad married Helon Clark Wilkerson on August 27, 1938.


47.  They lived at J-2-B University Apartments.

48.  Granddad was Sec-Treas of the Durham Merchants Assoc for over 25 years.  He was honored for his 25 years with the DMA with dinner, a check and a car.

49.  In 1940, he earned $2,700 as the Sec-Treas of the Durham Merchants Association


50.  In 1940, his son Bill was born (my dad!)

51.  His address in 1940 was 1104 Englewood Ave.

52/53/54.  He was 5’7, 160 pounds and had a ruddy complexion when he registered for the draft.

55.  In 1960 he was executive v-pres and treasurer of the Durham Merchant’s Assoc.

56.  In 1966 his granddaughter was born.  (ME!)

57.  In 1969 his grandson was born.  (Kirk!)

58.  He and my uncle Al had some joke about chimps.  Wish I knew the beginnings.  They would laugh about the various calendars and pictures and cards they would find.

59.  Granddad was left-handed.

Buck and Helon-3

60/61/62.  Granddad had a cement goldfish pond in his backyard.  Kirk and I gave him one of those pop-eyed goldfish.  Granddad named it Count Pulaski.

63.  Granddad liked irises.  Mom has the “descendents” of some of his purple irises in her yard.

64.  Granddad was a smoker.  Don’t ask me what he smoked.  I just remember that he did.  Of course everyone in Durham did.


65.  Granddad drank a lot of Tab or at least kept a bunch in the bottom of the pantry.

66.  I swear all his polo style shirts had penguins on them.

67.  He liked to laugh.  He had an infectious laugh.

68/69.  Granddad took daily walks around the neighborhood.  He talked to everyone he ran into, sometimes for extended periods of time.  Not sure that you could count his walks as exercise.

Buck-44 with Luther H. Hodges ncgov

70/71.  My grandparents had a black poodle named Charlie who was really smart.  He would “write letters” to me and my brother on every telephone pole he passed.  Of course Granddad would “read” the letters to us as we couldn’t read poodle.

72.  He once told me the only thing he could cook was a steak and it was luck if the steak turned out edible.

73.  During the winter he would bring his goldfish indoors from the goldfish pond.  I can remember them being in his bathtub one time because his fish tank had a crack in it.

74.  Ed Swindell was one of his good friends.  Mr. and Mrs. Swindell lived across the street from my grandparents when I was growing up.

75.  Granddad played golf.  Not that I remember him ever playing.  I just remember my dad, my brother and my aunt Marie playing.

76.  Granddad told me to call Uncle Sonny “Senior Citizen” when he turned 65.  Sonny was not amused in the least.  Sonny had some stern words for me.  Granddad just laughed and laughed.

77.  Granddad had me convinced for a time that the Lazy Susan was named after my cousin Susan.  (Uncle Al had me believing that black-eyes Susans were also named after her.)

78.  Granddad raised chickens.  I’m still a bit confused as to where he kept them in town.

79.  Granddad had a little farm outside of town.

80.  Sonny once told me that the only deer Granddad ever bagged was one that he accidentally hit with his car.


81.  Granddad once commented that he knew business was good, because he had two suits.

82.  He jokingly called my brother Billy Buck.

83.  Grandmom and Mom took me shopping one time, and of course I had to try on all the clothes and show everyone what I had gotten.  Granddad sang, “Here she comes…  Miss America….” as I walked into the den to “model”.

84.  Granddad’s favorite hymn was “Amazing Grace.”

85.  He was a member of Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church .

86.  He was a member of the George Watts Sunday School Class and  attended Sunday School regularly.

87.  He was a history major at Davidson

88.  He earned a letter sweater for being the football manager (I didn’t get one though.  Hmmph)

89.  He was a member of Omicron Delta Kappa or ODK or “the Circle”, which is a national leadership honor society.  It is considered to be one of the highest collegiate honors to be a member of the ODK…  up there with membership as a Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Beta Kappa (Sonny was a Phi Beta Kappa)


90.   Enthusiastic member of the Lions Club.

91. He loved investing in the stock market (which could explain his stockpile of Tab if he owned stock in that company).

92.  He loved his poker games with his longtime friends.  (Kirk now has his poker chips.  His great-grandchildren play War with his cards).

93.  He hatched chicken eggs in his house.  IN HIS HOUSE!

94.  He had to remove potatoes from the tub in order to bathe his grandchildren.  (My grandparents had 2 bathrooms and thus two tubs, but clearly either Kirk or I wanted to use his tub.  Grandchildren!)

95.  At church he was known for his enthusiastic singing.  (His son and grandchildren will bust out in song for no apparent reason, so this trait has definitely been passed along.  Just ask my children.  They will beg you to not get me started.)

96.  He was frugal.

97.  He was unpretentious.

98.  When Granddad laughed, he would rear back with his arms across his chest.

99.   Granddad died on 14 April 1978.  Kirk, two friends and I were watching M.A.S.H. when the phone call came.

100.  His life had touched so many others that there was standing room only for his funeral.