The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

In Memoriam: Jim Kirkwood


The drama department was a lot quieter than usual the morning the e-mail went out that beloved teacher, acting mentor and Korean War veteran James “Jim” Kirkwood had died at 5 A.M. on Monday, August 30, 2010. He was 79 years old.


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Kirkwood was a full-time instructor at the DVC drama department for 38 years, from 1966-2004. When Kirkwood retired from teaching full-time, many of his former students flew in from various parts of the country to attend his ceremony.  Kirkwood did not stop there though, after retirement he continued to teach drama as a part-time instructor from 2004 to the spring of 2010. 


Kirkwood, who had a degree in both drama and theology, amazed his students with his ability to get to the core of acting, producing, directing and, according to several students, he could even tap into their spirits and souls.


According to Beth McBrien, a drama teacher and former student at DVC, many of Kirkwood’s current and former students credit their success as actors, artists and educators to Kirkwood’s talent and his ability to influence as a teacher in not only drama, but in life itself. 


McBrien said if you asked Kirkwood if he could do anything over again, or if he could change anything about his life, he would have said, “No.”


Kirkwood was brutally honest when speaking with students in the drama department, and that is the way he taught, said drama student Nick Tarabini. Kirkwood wanted his students to “live acting, even while not on stage” Tarabini said.


Tarabini said it was an honor to take drama classes with Kirkwood because he was so passionate about teaching. Kirkwood was “completely unconcerned about bureaucracy within teaching” and taught from inside himself, not from a book saying what he ought to do, Tarabini said.


Kirkwood “was always striving to do better, he wanted to know if there was ever a way he could do better and [was] constantly examining the way he taught,” McBrien said.


Kirkwood is survived by his daughter, Lindeen, and his thousands of students that went on to peruse their passions thanks to him.


A celebration of Jim Kirkwood’s life will be held at Zio Fraedo’s, 611 Gregory Lane in Pleasant Hill  on Saturday, September 25, 2010 Noon – 5pm. $30 per person to defray costs. All those planning to attend will need to purchase tickets in advance.  No admissions will be available on the day of the celebration.  To purchase, please visit The deadline for ticket purchase is set to September 17, 2010.

Contact Michael Chase at [email protected]

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In Memoriam: Jim Kirkwood