On Oct. 1, the College and the football program retired No. 53, worn by the late Fred Morgan Kirby ’42, one of the College’s most prominent, most dedicated, and most humble alums.
The first football number ever to be retired by the College, it is an honor traditionally reserved for sports with smaller squads and less storied pasts than a sport that has been played at Lafayette for 129 years. No Lafayette football player will wear the number again, and locker No. 53 in Bourger Varsity Football House will remain unoccupied in tribute to Kirby who passed away in February.
“In the long history of our College, no one has contributed to our community more fully or with greater spirit than did Fred Kirby. From the time of his youth, until the end of his life more than 90 years later, Fred devoted a significant portion of his time, his energy, his wisdom, and his philanthropy to Lafayette,” said President Daniel H. Weiss. “Fred was a steadfast supporter of our athletics program and an especially avid football fan. Indeed, it is likely that Fred attended more Lafayette football games than anyone in the history of the College. He was also a member of the 1940 undefeated team.”
More than 25 members of the Kirby family came from four states for the retirement. “He would be embarrassed and proud at the same time,” said Jeff Kirby ’84. “He would think it entirely undeserved, but would be unbelievably proud of the gesture being made by the College.”
In 1967, Kirby succeeded his father, Allan Price Kirby ’15, as chairman and chief executive officer of Alleghany Corporation, a New York Stock Exchange-listed company. He served 39 years as chairman.