Octogenarian siblings and longtime Kings Park residents James Kirby, 87, and Margaret Kirby Foley, 89, led a contingent of 120 organizations, including 23 pipe-and-drum bands, as co-grand marshals during the Kings Park St. Patrick’s Day parade.
According to Gerry Creighton, a founding member of the parade committee, grand marshals are honored for their work in the hamlet and neighboring area, with senior citizens being chosen to lead the parade for the last five years. This year’s parade, held March 7, was the first time the event featured a brother-sister team.
“I have lived here all my life and I know all our senior citizens,” Creighton said. “I suggested, and it was accepted by the committee, that we honor seniors who have been here a long, long time.”
Kirby graduated from Kings Park High School in 1945 and served in the U.S. Navy at the end of World War II. He later studied to become a registered nurse at Pilgrim State Psychiatric Center School of Nursing in Brentwood and served as an administrator at the hospital in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Kirby also worked as the commissioner of Suffolk County Department of Social Services from 1965 to 1983 and served as secretary and assistant treasurer for the Board of Commissioners of the Smithtown Fire District from 1990 through 2008.
“I’m highly honored to play such a role, especially being a native Kings Parker,” Kirby said.
Foley attended St. Catherine’s Hospital Nursing School in Brooklyn, after which she took care of patients at Huntington Hospital, St. John’s Hospital in Smithtown and St. Johnland Nursing Home in Kings Park. She retired from nursing in the 1970s.
Foley was vice regent in the Catholic Daughters of Kings Park and actively participated in fundraising for the Sisters of St. Dominic in Amityville.
“I was stunned because I never thought I was in the realm to be honored for something like this,” Foley said.