Strong City Baltimore staff, scholars, neighbors, and family gathered on June 24, 2020 in the Hoen Lithograph Building parking lot to remember a pillar of The Club at Collington Square community, Dr. Kirk P. Gaddy.
Dr. Gaddy, who was a long-time Catholic educator and parishioner, died unexpectedly from a heart attack on June 20. He was a huge supporter of The Club, a Strong City Baltimore afterschool program that serves 90 youth and their families.
To honor and remember his impact, the community gathered to share stories of Dr. Gaddy with on one another, light candles, sing, and release black and gold balloons – the colors of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, of which Gaddy was a member. Several scholars from The Club presented flowers to the Gaddy family as a token of their appreciation and love.
Kirby Gaddy, Dr. Gaddy’s daughter, spoke on behalf of the family.
“Thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts,” she said. “Our family just feels so much love, so much compassion. It’s just amazing that we can see the impact that he had.”
“This has rocked our family. Its beyond shocking. But we know that with god, all things are possible.”
Dr. Gaddy served as the curriculum director, provided professional development for staff, and was a member of The Club’s advisory board for the past three years. He helped out however he could, including transporting students, food deliveries, stopping by often during the summer, and running an eight-week parenting focus group for parents of scholars.
“Dr. Gaddy and me had a tight bond,” said Gary Pittman, a rising 9th grader and Club Scholar. “We went at each other all the time. My passion is to play basketball. He would always tell me that I would never have any game and I would always tell him to step on the court.”
Dr. Gaddy is also remembered as a great family man and embedded his values into his children. His daughter Kirby also now works with The Club helping to fundraise.
Dr. Gaddy got involved with The Club through the director, Vanessa Williams. The pair are both passionate educators and were close friends and professional partners. Vanessa has known Dr. Gaddy since she was young, and they worked together for close to 30 years. She feels his loss greatly. But, is also buoyed by his memory.
“The legacy that he showed me that I will always incorporate into my life is: love and commitment of young people, education, and community. He showed a deep love of whatever community we were working in at that time,” says Vanessa.
She goes on, “Chef and I still can’t believe it. We keep waiting for him to pop in to check on what’s going on with a kid.”
“Legacies never die. As long as those of us who really embodied his beliefs keep doing the work, he will always live.”