Mr. Joe Ray Kirkland, 78, passed away peacefully on Thursday, October 27, 2022, after a valiant battle with brain cancer.
Joe was born December 30, 1943, in Macclenny, FL, to John Stevenson Kirkland and Nova Irene Garrett. The youngest child of one of Baker County’s pioneer farm families, he quickly developed a deep love and appreciation of nature.
Joe received a Bachelor's degree from the University of Florida in 1966 and a Master’s degree in Education from Florida A & M in 1973. He began his career in education as a teacher at Paxon High School in 1966. With his positive attitude and work ethic, Joe quickly became State Agriculture Education Director at Florida DOE in 1975.
With a desire to slow the pace and spend more time with family, Joe moved to Lake City in 1981 and began his career with the Columbia County School Board, serving faithfully as Vocational Director, Assistant Superintendent, and Deputy Superintendent before retiring in 2003.
Joe met the love of his life, Henrietta Nettles Kight, in 1992, and they were married on July 5, 1994. Together, they shared many years of love and laughter with their children and grandchildren.
Joe was a devoted member of the Future Farmers of America (FFA), serving as Florida Executive Secretary, State Advisor, and numerous other roles. He was instrumental in forming the Florida FFA Foundation and building its Leadership Training Center. In retirement, Joe saw a need to document the rich history of Florida’s FFA, culminating with the publishing of his book, “Florida FFA: Our History” and the website www.seasonedowls.com. In 2009, Joe was inducted into the Florida FFA Hall of Fame, one of his proudest moments.
Joe is preceded in death by his parents, John and Nova, and his brother, Fred (Aline) Kirkland. He is survived by his wife, Henrietta Nettles Kight Kirkland; sister Dollie (George) Register; brother Windell (Margaret) Kirkland; daughters Karen (Ken) Goff, Kristal (Chuck Crews) Kight Fitz, Kelli (Norbie) Ronsonet, Sarah (Matt) Britt; son Raymond (Erica) Kirkland; 11 grandchildren: Caleb Goff, Aidan Goff, Quentin Goff, Trevor Goff, Anna Kirkland, Leah Kirkland, Kelbie Ronsonet, Kaylin Ronsonet, Pearce Fitz, Jessah Britt, and Kyler Britt.
A viewing will be held at Guerry Funeral Home, 2659 SW Main Blvd, in Lake City on Tuesday, November 1 from 5 - 8 PM, and a Celebration of Life will be held at First Advent Christian Church, 1881 SW McFarlane Ave, Lake City, on Wednesday, November 2, at 11 AM, to be followed by a private burial at Macedonia Cemetery in Macclenny.In lieu of flowers, the family would like to ask for a donation to Haven Hospice of Lake City, or to a charity of your choice.