Today in Baltimore, one of St Frances Academy’s many Black Catholic legends is being honored with a street name at the institution he loved.
The late Dr. Kirk Gaddy, who passed away last year from a cardiovascular event at the age of 55, will be honored in a ceremony at the historic school founded by Servant of God Mother Mary Lange and the Oblate Sisters of Providence. The sign is the result of an arrangement reached with the city.
Gaddy’s daughter Courtney announced the news on social media last month.
“A few months ago, I told my family I wanted a street sign with [his] name on it,” she noted, adding that the event would be connected to a scholarship fundraiser the same day at the Texas Roadhouse location in Nottingham, Maryland.
Gaddy was a graduate of St Frances in 1983, not long after the school began admitting males in the late 70s after roughly 150 years as an all-girls institution.
It was founded in 1828 to educate Black children in an era when teaching slaves was illegal in Maryland. It has since grown to become an exceptional Black Catholic institution for students from a variety of backgrounds.
Gaddy began teaching at the school in the late 80s, later becoming dean of students before moving on to other Catholic schools in the area. He returned for a second time to become assistant principal at St Frances in 2019, while also working for Xavier University of Louisiana’s Institute for Black Catholic Studies.
He was later promoted to the role of principal at St Frances, but died before the commencement of the 2020-2021 academic term. His funeral took place at the school last July.
He was survived by his wife Crystalyn, daughters Courtney and Kirby, and also his son Kirk Jr., who serves as a teacher and the assistant athletic director at St Frances.
Gaddy Jr. provided a statement by email in honor of his father:
“Average people live in the past and the past hurts. They aren’t emotionally mature. The Greats live in the present and refuse to let anything, including the past disturb their peace, their progress, and their prosperity. Life is too short, Let go and love.
Dad thank you for never being average! Thank you for always striving for greatness. Today is your day and we are going to celebrate. I will continue the legacy champ!”
His children noted on social media that inclement weather is expected to force the ceremony into the school chapel, but the event will otherwise continue as planned. Masks will be mandatory.
Courtney noted that the restaurant fundraiser thereafter will run from 3-10pm.
“Come and help us pay tribute to this amazing man,” she said.
“My father couldn't live forever, but I'm committed to making sure his name lasts forever.”
UPDATE 9/1: The sign is now up.
Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, a seminarian with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).