O’Neil Rafer Kirkling was born on July 23, 1961 in Kings County Hospital, Brooklyn, NY. He was adopted at birth by the late R B andAugusta Kirkling who loved him as their own. O’Neil departed this life on November 3, 2019 after a lengthy illness. He attended BrooklynTemple SDA Elementary School and Northeastern Academy, both located in New York. O’Neil showed a love for the Pathfinders Club at an early age at his
home church, Brooklyn Temple SDA Church. He went through the ranks and became a Drill and Drum Corp Instructor, an office that he held throughout the years at every church he was a member of and some of those that he was not. O’Neil loved working with young people, running the drill and drum teams, and anything related to Pathfinders. He also sang in quite a few choirs and groups.
O’Neil worked in Brooklyn, NY in daycare and food service and after relocating to Durham, NC with his family, he worked for many years at Duke University as Grounds Equipment Operator 2. O’Neil eventually had to stop working due to his declining health. This was a major change for him. As a result of him not working a 9 to 5, he began to volunteer at Maureen Joy Charter School. O’Neil loved the Maureen Joy
Charter School students, faculty and parents. It was his vision to start the PEAK basketball team who thrived under O’Neil’s coaching skills.
O’Neil was also affectionately called Poppa Smurf, Big Poppa, Uncle Neil, and Unk. He was known for his love of music and was the DJ when we went to the house for family gatherings. Neil had loads of
cassettes and CDs and loved to sing. He loved singing solos at his beloved church, Immanuel Temple SDA Church, and was an original member of the Anointed Voices of Praise choir. O’Neil would say yes every
time he was asked to perform. He further utilized his music skills by working with the audio and visual team at the church.
O’Neil loved to cook and family gatherings could not happen without his famous macaroni and cheese and bbq chicken. The family would not mind eating later than the set time if the wait was due to the mac and
cheese still being in the oven. Summer time would bring in cook out time and we all would line up for a Neil burger, hot dog, or chicken. Yes, O’Neil loved food and he loved seeing his family come together
and share these meals with laughter on the menu as well.
Our O’Neil loved his family and friends. He would often make random calls to check on his people. This increased as his illness progressed and he definitely let you know that he was thinking about you and was
grateful for you in his life.
O’Neil leaves to cherish his memories with love and laughter: long time love, Lori E. Henderson, his children, sons, Steven (Leon) Kirkling, and David O. Kirkling; daughters, Felicia E. Kirkling, Theresa R.Kirkling, and Neisha V. Kirkling; eight grandchildren, Faniya Kirkling, Francesca Kirkling, Ferrell Kirkling, Trulie Telfare, Macie Kirkling, Faheem Kirkling, Keloni Rivera, and Ferrari Kirkling;
mother-in-law (Mom as he called her), Lois E. Henderson; brother, Eric Austin; two brother-in laws, Charles U. Henderson, Jr, and Michael L. Henderson; sister-in-law, Victoria E. Henderson Poole (Gregory T.);
special cousins, the Eaton family; and a host of much loved cousins,nieces, nephews, and friends.