Obituary: John Kenneth Kirtley, 57, formerly of Bardstown


John Kenneth Kirtley, 57, of Louisville, formerly Bardstown, died of natural causes in Louisville on Thursday, August 4, 2022.

The Kirtley family is saddened to announce the death of their beloved brother. He was born in Bardstown on August 8, 1964 to Timothy Hugh and Juanita (Cecil) Kirtley, both of whom preceded him in death. He was the youngest in the family.


He graduated from Nelson County High School in 1982 and received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Louisville on May 8, 2010, after initially studying music at Morehead University. In his youth he won the role of “Young Andrew Carnegie” in The Stephen Foster Story. At the time he was an active member of the Stephen Foster Music Club, demonstrating his lifelong love of singing and music. He was also an excellent poet and writer and was writing a novel at the time of his death. He particularly enjoyed board games such as Risk and Monopoly and was an avid participant in games around the family table and later in life. He also enjoyed discussions about his favorite TV shows like The Twilight Zone, Survivor and The Amazing Race. He was a deep thinker, true to his principled approach to life, and would enjoy challenging anyone to a fair debate on life issues.

As an adult, he enjoyed working as an online stock trader, was a teaching and research assistant at the University of Louisville, was news director and an on-air personality for WBRT-WOKH radio, was assistant manager of the Republic Theaters in Bardstown, and was a math teacher at the Bethlehem High School in Bardstown. At the time of his death, he was preparing for his new job on the WDRB-TV production team in Louisville.

One of his great passions was finding out how people outside of his home state of Kentucky thought. During his lifetime he lived in several states including Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Connecticut. He also lived abroad in Moldova.

He enjoyed helping others and served as a communicator for his far-flung siblings during times of family crisis. He was happy to offer his extensive computer skills to help anyone who asked him for help. For example, he helped his brother Michael upload his television interviews to YouTube, created his brother David’s professional website, and wrote the processional music for his sister Marian’s wedding to Charlie Keesy.

Personally, he particularly enjoyed what he called “the golden hour,” before sunset and after sunrise, when “the daylight is redder and softer” than when the sun is higher in the sky.

Here is one of the numerous haikus he wrote:

Catch me like it has to be
I flee like the tiger’s prey
of his tics and tocks

Because of his many talents, generosity, and other virtues, he will be sorely missed by those who were touched by his presence.

He is survived by his seven grieving siblings and their families, Michael Kirtley (Binh) of Paris, France, Mark Kirtley of Baker Nev., David Kirtley (Mutsumi) of Louisville, Colorado, Daniel Kirtley and Stephen Kirtley (Kathy), both of Bardstown, Marian Keesy (Charlie) and Judith Lund (Mark), both from Lexington; two nieces, Ariane Kirtley and Erin Keesy; seven nephews, Tercelin Kirtley, Ryan Kirtley, Brent Kirtley, Eric Kirtley, Drew Kirtley, Zachary Keesy and Jeremy Lund; and his former wife Aubine, who loved him dearly.

He will be buried next to his parents in a private ceremony on Tuesday 9 August 2022 at St Joseph Cemetery in Bardstown. The family will hold a public celebration of John’s life at a later date. They would welcome any expression of sympathy at this moment of sudden heartbreak.

The Houghlin-Greenwell Funeral Home is in charge of the preparations.


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