Dan and Arlene Kirby have invested $1 million in the Sanford Lorraine Cross Award.

‘We believe in giving that lasts forever.’ Kirby family invests in Lorraine Cross Award

February 25, 2020

Story by Dan and Arlene Kirby

When the Kirby family business, Western Surety Company, was sold in the 1990s, our focus turned increasingly to philanthropy. Having previously provided modestly but sufficiently for our descendants, we are now committed to leaving our entire estates to philanthropic endeavors.

We believe in endowment and other giving that lasts forever, so the Lorraine Cross Award was a perfect fit for us. It will inspire and encourage research and development that will truly improve the human condition today and forever.

We enjoyed the inaugural event, and our children are excited about being able to attend over the years and to introduce their children (and their children) to the Award and the event.

We hope some of our grandchildren will get involved in science, and trust this Award might serve as something of an inspiration in that regard.

Finally, it is hard to overstate the degree of changes we have witnessed in health care over our lifetimes.

When we started grade school, children were dying of polio or spending full time in iron lungs, ugly contraptions that inspired fear and claustrophobia in all of us. We were both Polio Pioneers who tested (and retested … Dan had over a dozen shots and oral treatments) the Salk vaccine.

In a small-world coincidence, we took our children to the beach in La Jolla, Calif., during several of their teen years, and watched Dr. Jonas Salk walk the beach twice daily, usually followed by a group of white-coated medical students.

It is intriguing to imagine what our children, grandchildren and other descendants will consider the most significant health care changes during their lifetimes.

Our only regret is that we won’t always be sitting with them at Lorraine Cross Award ceremonies to celebrate all this!


This is the fifth in a series of stories shared by members of the Founders Circle, a celebrated group of donors who have invested $1 million or more in the Sanford Lorraine Cross Award. 

To learn more about joining the Founders Circle, please contact Helen Henkin Kluck by email or call (605) 312-6700.