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Summer 2011, Vol. 14, No. 3
Class Notes: Alumni Profile

A Family Affair

John R. Kirk, former president of the First District Normal School, one of the former names of Truman State University, may have died in 1937, but his family’s connection to the University is still going strong. Kirk’s great-great niece Susan (Troutman) See graduated from Truman in 1976 with a bachelor of music, and she was not the only legacy to follow in Kirk’s footsteps.

  See Family 

 Susan (Troutman) See (’76) says her family has their own little Truman alumni chapter. Pictured L-R: son-in-law Brad Smith (’08), daughter Rachel (See) Smith (’06), husband Richard See (’79), Susan, daughter-in-law Morgan (Hamer) See (’04) and son Nathan See (’03).

  John R. Kirk Postcard
  The postcard shown above with a New Year’s greeting was sent by John R. Kirk, a former president of the University and the great-great uncle of Susan (Troutman) See (’76).

About 20 relatives and counting have attended Truman, including all of See’s siblings and most of their spouses; See’s children and their spouses; many cousins; her husband; and even See’s parents who took night classes once their kids were grown. Last year, See’s niece Caitlin Troutman attended the Joseph Baldwin Academy on the Truman campus during summer 2010 and could be the next attendee.

“We laugh that we can have our own alumni chapter,” says See. “My children never thought they would go to the same college their parents went to, and when they visited the school, just like us, they fell in love with it.”

See said she did not attend Truman (then known as Northeast Missouri State University) because of her relation to John Kirk, but she knew a lot about the Kirk family and the connection to Kirksville because of her mother’s extensive research into family history. A large number of See’s relatives have not only attended Truman but have become teachers, maintaining the same devotion to education that Kirk had throughout his life. In 1878, Kirk graduated from the university as valedictorian of his class, worked as a superintendant and a teacher in several Missouri school districts for more than 20 years, and then became president of his alma mater. After retirement, Kirk continued his education and obtained two additional degrees, including a master’s of education.

“I know that Truman doesn’t focus on the teaching so much now that it’s branched out into other areas, but that remains a strong connection for my family,” said See, who teaches piano. She has a long-lasting connection with many of her professors and even helped one pack for a move to Montana.

Family reunions with the Kirk side of the family keep the Truman spirit alive among the relatives. See even joked that although “Truman” would be hard to say for a baby, she needs to start working on her one-year-old grandchild to keep the Truman tradition alive for Kirk’s relatives. —Baillie James

Truman Review magazine
Published by Office of Advancement, Truman State University, McClain Hall 205, 100 E. Normal Ave., Kirksville, Missouri 63501;
Copyright © Truman State University 2011.