Alumni Spotlight: Bill Kirber ’64

By Kristin Sanderson

DSC_3717For the three year old Bill Kirber, play was simple:  He was at Miquon—collecting crayfish in the creek, building dams and running in the woods.  Naturally, as with any Miquon child, these things were all a part of daily life.

And for the Bill Kirber who has since gone on to Harvard and University of Pennsylvania Medical School and started his own ophthalmology practice, life is still pretty simple.  True, he has gained an invaluable education during his time—arguably, at some of the nation’s top institutions.   And indeed, he has become a seasoned professional in his own right, with years of professional practice under his belt.  Yet there are some things that remain central: a love of learning and a respect for all people.

“I didn’t realize it at the time, but For the Good of the Group and For the Good of the School were very important to me,” remarks Kirber.

“They were part of the foundation of learning respect for everyone.  It was years later that I realized that few people and places respect children enough to listen to their opinions.  When I left Miquon and found out that what passed for respect was really more about social hierarchy, it was a surprise.”

And while life lessons were threads throughout his entire Miquon experience, Kirber also felt Miquon prepared him well academically, “particularly in Math,” he says.

“Math with Lore [Rasmussen] was all about discovery and not at all about memorization.  Math wasn’t so much a subject as a way of looking at and understanding the world.  I never lost that.”

After Penn, Kirber moved to St. Louis where he completed a year-long medical internship and three year ophthalmology residency at Barnes Hospital.  Following residency, he relocated to Lakeville, Connecticut to open the practice he still runs today.  There, he and his wife Sue raised two children.  Happily, one of those children has found her way to Miquon as a current parent of Owen (3) in the Nursery this year.

What this 1964 graduate credits Miquon with imparting still rings true for Owen and all the Miquon children today.  And though we may be rolling out our newly crafted vision for the future, we realize it really mirrors what Miquon has always been about: inspiring children to be lifelong lovers of learning and instilling a real respect for all humankind, regardless of age or background.

“It’s hard to know what about who I am came from my genes, my upbringing and my early education,” he says. “I still love to learn, I look forward to challenges and I enjoy figuring things out, whether a difficult problem at work, or how to make something out of wood that I have not done before.

“I try to treat everyone equally, personally and professionally.  A two-year-old gets the same respect as a CEO.  I’m sure Miquon has a lot to do with it.”