Robert M. Van Kirk

  • Born: October 22, 1928
  • Died: January 27, 2020
  • Location: Melrose

Gately Funeral Home

79 West Foster Street
Melrose, MA 02176

Tel. (781) 665-1949

Tribute & Message From The Family

Message From The Family

Thank you for your support during this difficult time. Please enhance this tribute to Robert by adding your memories and photos.

Robert M. Van Kirk died at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital on January 27, 2020 at the age of 91. He was born in Columbia, NJ on October 22, 1928 to the late Marvin & Grace (Kinney) Van Kirk. Robert was raised in Belvidere, NJ, graduated from Belvidere High School in 1947 and entered the US Navy in 1948. Mr. Van Kirk served in the Navy for 30 years, served in the Korean & Vietnam Wars and retired as a Chief Petty Officer. After his retirement from the service he worked as a project manager at Spaulding & Sly in Boston for a few years and then as a self employed carpenter for many years. He has been a resident of Melrose for 52 years. Robert was very involved in the veteran's organizations over the years. He was the State Commander from 2004-2005, a lifetime member of the Harold O. Young VFW Post 2394 in Melrose, and member of the DAV, the American Legion, Korean Veterans Organization and the Navy Vessels Membership. He was considered a "Brown Shoe Navy Veteran" because he was on the aviation side of the US Navy. He was also a member of the Masonic Order Lodge 13 in Belvidere, NJ and a member of the National Rifle Association. Mr. Van Kirk enjoyed camping and fishing, spending time in the summer in Sanford, Maine and winters in Key West, Florida. He and his wife Rita would travel to a different convention every year, he also enjoyed reading non- fiction and watching football and baseball.

Robert was the beloved husband of 52 years to Rita M. (Boyle) Van Kirk. Loving brother of Barbara Whitney and her late husband Henry of NJ. Cherished uncle of Sharon Rahman, Steve Whitney, Patricia Boyle, Paula Boyle, Michael Boyle & Lawrence Boyle and their families.

Visitation will be held at the Gately Funeral Home, 79 West Foster St. Melrose on Saturday, February 8, 2020 from 9:00-11:00AM. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend. "Van" was in the US Navy for 30 years and was a Korea & Vietnam War Veteran. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to a charity of your choice.


Condolence & Memory Journal

Dear Rita,
Sorry I couldn't be there today but and the family are in my prayers.
I remember the Nat'l Conventions when we all used to hit the casinos. I also still have the Dolphin clock Van gave me and it still works.
Don/Diane Lafond

Posted by DIANE LAFOND - Acushnet, MA   February 08, 2020

Dearest Rita, Our hearts are saddened by your loss and our thoughts and prayers are with you. He will be missed.

Posted by Ron and Jean Smith - Ormond Beach, FL - Friend   February 08, 2020

Rita,was very sorry to hear of Vans passing. I will keep you in my prayers as you go threw these hard times.

Posted by Judie Fairneny - Melrose, MA - Friend   February 07, 2020

I did not know you personally, however I would very much like to "Thank You" for your dedicated and honorable Military Service to OUR country.
At a later date we will meet in that "SPECIAL PLACE" which GOD reserves for ALL of those who have stepped forward to serve their county in a Military Uniform.
May ALL of GOD'S blessings be with your Dear Family!

Posted by Sergeant Major (E-9) Larry E. & Mrs. Sheila M. (LaBar) Williams, US Army/ Retired - TN   February 06, 2020

Godspeed Uncle Bob. You were my favorite uncle and one of the truly great storytellers. Our condolences to Aunt Rita.

Steve and Holly

Posted by Steve Whitney - Miamisburg, OH - Family   February 05, 2020

To the Van Kirk Family:

On behalf of a grateful nation, and the State of New Hampshire VFW Auxiliary, District #7, we wish to express sincere appreciation for the honorable service given by your loved one, and send our deepest condolences on your loss.

Cathy Burns
Chaplain, District #7

Posted by Cathy Burns - Friend   February 03, 2020

Rita - I remember spending time @ the Harold O Young with both you and Van.


Posted by Jack Rahilly - North Conway, NH - Friend   February 02, 2020

Rita and Family- Dawn and I send our deepest condolences on your loss. Van was a friend, Comrade and mentor who I looked to for advice and counsel to be the best VFW member and officer I could. His presence will be missed but never forgotten. Fair winds and following seas, Shipmate!

Posted by Michael Figlioli - VFW Washington Office, DC - Friend   February 02, 2020

"Van" will always be remembered as a true American patriot. He gave to his country, friends and, of course, Rita, unconditionally. We all will miss his stories (some of them even funny) and hope that when our time arises to leave this world, we do so as Van; a little better.
Dick & Myra

Posted by Richard & Myra Lyons - Melrose, MA - Friend   February 02, 2020

Patty, Katie & Family,
We're so sorry to learn of Van's passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

Posted by Gina & Charlie Manoli - Stoneham, MA - Friend   February 01, 2020

Our deepest sympathy to Rita and the family on your loss. Van was a great friend and comrade. He will be missed by all.
Norm & Judy Cook

Posted by Norman Cook - Saugus, MA - Friend   January 31, 2020

The Gately Family and Staff wish to express our sincere sympathy to you. It is our hope that we may be able to make a difficult time more bearable. Please feel free to call on us at anytime as we are always available to you.

Posted by John W. Gately, John H. Gately & Fred Sprague    January 30, 2020

Family Album