Donald Murray Longworth Kirkpatrick
November 28, 1919 to May 3, 2017
Donald Murray Longworth Kirkpatrick was born November 28th, 1919, in a city southwest of Toronto, called Woodstock, in the province of Ontario, Canada. He was the youngest in a family of five children. Interestingly, his eldest sister, Grace, was like a second Mother to him, being 19 years older than he.
Harvey, Don´s father, worked diligently and taught with his example a high work ethic, effort, dedication and the will to serve others. Margaret, Don´s mother, took care of her family and had to face the death of Harvey, her husband.
Donald finished elementary and secondary education in Woodstock and then decided to study Agriculture at the University of Guelph, also in Ontario, Canada.
When Don was only 20 years old, the Second World War began (September, 1939). Don and his brother Harold enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Harold trained as a pilot and Don worked in Radio Communication. Harold was sent overseas to Europe while Don worked at Canadian Air Force Bases. Harold was killed in one of the attacks and was buried in Wales.
Don had to postpone his studies in Agriculture at the University of Guelph during his service in the Air Force. During this time he met a farmer named Colby Lewis from Prince Edward Island. Colby invited Don to his home where he met Elsie Jean, daughter of Colby and Elsie Lewis. On July 5th, 1944, amid an incredibly difficult time in world history, Jean and Don were married. In 1945, Jim, their first son was born. Don was able to return to University and conclude his studies in Agriculture. The day he graduated, David, his second son, was born.
God worked in the hearts of both Don and Jean and they dedicated their lives and family to the service of God. They joined Latin America Mission and in 1948 arrived in Costa Rica, at the airport located in “La Sabana”. They came with their two toddlers, Jim and David. Immediately they went to live at the Roblealto Children´s Home, a home for orphans as well as children who had families but came from very difficult circumstances. Due to the urgency of the work, Don and Jean did not get to learn Spanish in a formal way. While working hard, they found a teacher in Heredia who would meet them at the Central Park and there help them learn the language. They learned not only the language, but also the culture of the Costa Rican people.
Some years later, Peggy, their Princess, was born. A few years after this, John, the Baby came into their family.
God´s ways are much higher than ours and in December of 1956, Jean, Don´s precious wife, died very suddenly. This fact tore deeply into the Longworth family. Many people thought that Don would not be able to continue. Yet God, whom never leaves us nor forsakes us, upheld Don and his children. Maybe this experience was a powerful reason why Don loved Psalm 23:4; “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me…”
God restored and strengthened Don and his four children and after spending some time in Canada with family, they returned to work at the Roblealto Children´s Home and Farm. Not only did Don share his knowledge in Agriculture but he invested his life in people. He would be involved with each individual that God brought across his path. Many have come to share stories with us of how Don influenced their lives.
In 1959, Don married Nancy Koop. She had come to Costa Rica from the province of Manitoba, to serve at the Roblealto Children´s Home as a teacher. Many of you know the noble, dedicated, loyal character of this great woman, who spent 57 years of her life next to Don. It is not yet a year that she went ahead into the presence of God. Two daughters were born of this marriage: Nancy Rose and Elizabeth. Elizabeth died a few hours after she was born, causing a deep pain in this couple.
Apart from the 30 years spent serving at the Roblealto Children´s Home, farm and camp, Don was the founder and initiator along with Mr. F. Brooks Herman, of the Roblealto Hatchery. Later on, Don dedicated important years of his life to Good Will Caravans, an entity which mobilized teams of professionals (doctors, dentist, Christian Education workers, Agronomists) to rural areas in order to bring much needed services as well as the message of hope in Jesus Christ. Don and Nancy helped with a home for the elderly called The Good Samaritan. Don worked for many years at a Rehabilitation Centre for people fighting addictions. There he developed a healthy poultry operation as well as large gardens. All this as part of helping the individuals relearn the value of hard work.
One of the aspects of Don and Nancy´s ministry that is remembered and loved by all is their gift of hospitality. Nancy was always baking something and her kitchen was filled with delicious aromas. Whenever someone dropped in, they were welcomed and served with love and good cookies! How many significant conversations were held around their dining room table! How many families adopted them as “parents”. How diverse were the people that came into their lives and became a part of them.
As Don and Nancy got older, they had health problems. They passed through “the valley of the shadow of death” but they trusted in God, Who never left them. They faced their limitations with the grace that only God gives. They encouraged and blessed everyone. Their caregivers can testify to their courage, good attitude and love.