Alfred D. Kirkland

Alfred D. Kirkland, Mu, 1952, Phi Alpha, 1970-1971

Alfred Dell Kirkland, Mu, 1952, was a one year Phi Alpha, who was pressed into service when Henry Elliot suddenly resigned.  He received Zeta Psi’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, in 1971.

Born July 27, 1930, he originally went to USC where as a Freshman he was a starting tackle on their football team. He transferred to Stanford University, and had a lifelong love affair with the University.  While at Stanford, he was a Defensive Tackle on the 1951 Football team.  A team that also included Notable Zete, Dr. Bill McColl. He was the glue of a group called the “How Boys”, teammates who swore at the end of the previous season to play in the Rose Bowl.  Which they indeed did, on January 1, 1952, losing to Illinois in the 38th edition of the Rose Bowl.  In 1952 he was a team Captain.  Besides Football, Al also played Rugby at Stanford, and continued to passionately support the Men’s and Woman’s Rugby teams for his entire life.

After graduation, “Big Al”, as he was known to his friends and family, embarked on an exhibition Rugby tour to Australia and New Zealand playing in 26 matches between May 27, and August 24, 1953.  He was a member of the American All Stars, most of whom had never played Rugby.  The tour was an attempt by sports promoter Mike Dimitro to establish a professional Rugby league in the United States.  Al was one of the leading scorers for the American team, and is featured in a book, No Helmets Required, about this adventure.

While he never played professional rugby in the United States, he played for Rugby Union for five years at the Bay Area’s Olympic Club (San Francisco, CA) while working in sales.  Eventually he moved on from sales to become Assistant Dean of the Engineering School for twelve years at Stanford University.

Within Zeta Psi, Al was a pillar of the Mu Zetes.  He was the President of the Mu Elders Association from 1968 (approx.) to 1981, when he handed off the responsibilities to fellow Notable Zete, E.Y. Snowden.  Al was a savior of the Mu Chapter several times over, but never more important than when he led its return to Stanford after the house had been kicked off campus for 3 years in 1965.  Starting fresh after the Mu’s reactivation in 1968, Al’s Elder leadership helped the chapter’s rapid rise, winning back-to-back Zeta Psi chapter of the year awards in 1973-74. Even a decade after turning over the Mu Elders’ leadership, Al was very helpful in the reactivation of the Mu again in 1992.

From his Obituary, “Al Kirkland died suddenly the morning of August 30, 2012  while on his way to fitness training, proving that some people will do just about anything to avoid exercise. Those who knew and loved Big Al have lost a friend, a father, a grandfather, an inspired raconteur, and a spirited bon vivant.

In fact, Big Al defined that phrase, living a life filled with love and appreciation of all good things. His passions, in order, were his family, both close and extended; Stanford University—especially the 1952 Rose Bowl team, the How Boys, of which he was an outstanding member—and cooking. He was named a Chevalier of la Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs in 2000, and was especially proud of his study under Julia Child in 1981. (Of course, he was the teacher’s pet, being the only student chef tall enough to stand eye-to-eye with Julia.)”

Al and his nephew Christopher Russell on their way to see the 1980 Super Bowl XIV, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

He was survived by his wife of 52 years, Jeanne; three sons, Scott, Dave, and Jim; and two daughters, Colleen and Kelly.”

Al and his wife of 52 years, Jeanne