AUBURN — Doris A. Kirby, 89, died peacefully March 11, 2018, at Clover Manor in Auburn.

She was born June 9, 1928, in Brownville Junction, the second oldest of 10 siblings. She graduated from Brownville Junction High School in 1945 and entered the convent at age 17, joining the Sisters of Mercy out of the Diocese of Portland. She took the name Sister Mary Cyril for its meaning

“Missionary for God.” She graduated from St. Joseph’s College in Windham with a bachelor’s degree natural sciences in 1969, and later earned a master’s degree in health care administration from the University of New Hampshire. She also attended Catholic University in Washington, D.C., studying special education and education for the visually handicapped.

Early in her teaching career, she taught K-12 math and science in parochial schools throughout Maine. She later served as principal and Mother Superior in many locations.

Of all the places she served, she fell in love with the people living on the Passamaquoddy Indian Reservation in Perry. They were known as the people of Sipayik. After 30 years of serving in the convent, Doris made the difficult decision to leave so she could maintain her mission of service to the Passamaquoddy population. As a private citizen with no resources except an education and grit, she worked hard to help improve the conditions of the tribe.

She got involved in politics and worked tirelessly with tribal leaders in Washiington, D.C., Nevada and Michigan, fighting for the Maine tribal communities. She worked closely with Govs. Curtis, Longley and Brennan during the Maine Indians Settlement Act.

She was a member of the Maine Governor’s Advisory Committee of Indian Education, which brought about significant reforms. Doris continued her education in social work, and became the director of social services on Pleasant Point and later director of the health center. She took into her home many at-risk children and abandoned animals, and loved and protected them.

She always lived a life of humility, simplicity and generosity. She was known for having few possessions, always giving things away that came to her. Never marrying, she committed her whole life to God, in service to Native Americans, the poor, sick and those without education. When she retired, the state of Maine Legislature honored her at the Capitol: “To Doris Kirby, an advocate for Native Peoples since the 1950’s, we order this official sentiment of appreciation for her 40 years of dedication and commitment as a teacher, health advisor, and counselor to the people of the Passamaquoddy Tribe.”

She is survived by her sisters Joan Kirby of Augusta and Theresa Kirby Dyer and her partner, Brian Mitchell, of Pittsfield and Carmen Kirby Morris and her husband,, Edward, of Huntington Beach, California; many nieces and nephews; and many dear friends from Pleasant Point Indian Community.

She was predeceased by her sisters Audrey Kirby Ferguson of Lewiston, Claire Kirby Michaud of Guilford and Helen Kirby McCafferty of Mattawamkeag; brothers Maurice Kirby of Houlton, Patrick Kirby of Sanford and Baby Joseph Kirby of Brownville Junction.

The family would like to thank the staff at Clover Manor, Androscoggin Home Hospice and especially Dr. Thomas Hattan for their compassionate care.

Messages of condolence may be expressed at www.laryfuneralhome.com.

Doris A. Kirby

Doris A. Kirby

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