A.J. Kirkland Jr.
A.J. Kirkland Jr. - was born in 1948, died Thursday, April 13, 2017 with family and friends by his side. A.J. was born in Sylacauga. A.J. had a deep love for his father and as a young boy helped out in his father's barbershop. The family moved briefly to Texas but returned to Sylacauga. A.J. volunteered for service in the United States Army and served in Vietnam from 1967 to 1969. He served with the 3rd Battalion, 187 infantry, 101 Airborne Division. A.J. received two purple hearts during his service. He was seriously wounded in a firefight at Cu Chi where he received a shrapnel wound to the head which blinded him in his right eye. After returning to the States, A.J. finished High school in Sylacauga. He then worked at the Sylacauga Hospital and with his brother, Larry Kirkland painting houses before being admitted, and attending, Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida. A.J. always said that his years studying art at Ringling were the best years of his life. Those years provided him with a profession and life-long friendships. After graduating from Ringling School of Art, A.J. returned to Sylacauga and worked as a portrait painter and a sign painter. In 1993, A.J. married Debbie Shell and took care of her and her family until her death. After retiring, A.J. spent his time painting portraits, visiting friends and traveling. He took many trips to see the men he had served with in Vietnam, men he had the utmost respect for. He was preceded in death by his brother, Larry Kirkland; sister, Martha Moon, and wife Debbie Kirkland. A.J. is survived by his sister, Kay Holt; daughter, Rikki Shell Kirkland; granddaughter, Destyni Kirkland; grandsons, Skylar and Boogie Williams; nephews, Kent, Arnold, Marco (deceased); nieces, Donnell, Karla, Babbette, Rachel, and Marla. A memorial service will be held at Marble City Baptist Church, on Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 1 p.m.
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