Piedmont Profile: The enterprising ‘Captain Kirks’
By Mark Wineka
James T. Kirks embraces his name.
As you can see, it’s eerily similar to the television captain of the Starship Enterprise.
Friends often call him “Captain,” or “Capt. Kirks.”
They can’t help it, and how many times has someone mentioned something about beaming him up, Scotty?
He has gone to “Star Trek” conventions in the past.
Whenever a new “Star Trek” movie comes out, someone sends him free movie tickets to the show.
“I just get them,” he says. “I don’t know where they’re coming from.”
No surprise, but his car’s personalized license plate is “Kaptain.”
Kirks, 61, was born years before the original “Star Trek” series first aired in 1966, so don’t blame his parents for trying to be cute.
But it turns out Kirks has some things in common with the fictional James T. Kirk.
You could say he’s a problem-solver, communicator and team player. He’s good at handling technical situations.
“I know a lot of people,” Kirks says, sitting in the gift shop of the Looking Glass Artist Collective. “I know how to do things, and I believe in helping everyone.
“If I don’t know the answer, I’m going to find the answer.”
Kirks most recently agreed to serve as manager for the artist collective. That’s just one of many hats he wears.
He also has his own computer consulting business, Logical Solutions. He’s the sound man for Eternity Church and handles some of the church’s PowerPoint presentations.
During the school year, he’s a bus driver and office assistant for Odell Elementary School in Cabarrus County.
His past work experience has taken him across the country in jobs such as a technician, plant engineer, repairman, installer, computer troubleshooter, electrician and even television producer.
The East Rowan High graduate never went to college, but he guesses that he has logged more than 2,000 hours in various certification courses and seminars, besides a civil service apprenticeship for the U.S. Navy.
“I remember someone telling me that I was an autodidact, which is a mostly self-taught person, as opposed to learning in a school,” Kirks says.
Sarah Hall, president of the Looking Glass Artist Collective, says Kirks brings a lot of technical expertise to her organization, which relies wholly on members.
“We had been trying for months to research phone and Internet plans and get that set up, but we couldn’t seem to focus long enough to see it through,” Hall says.
“Within two weeks of Jim’s arrival, he’d gotten our phone installed, and we now have wireless for our members.”
Kirks also managed to obtain a perfect telephone number for the collective: 704-633-ARTS.
He works at the collective for free, though he can earn commissions for certain things.
Hall says Kirks’ knowledge of sound equipment and lighting has been invaluable for the collective’s live music and theater events. “He can also fix our temperamental copier and program our thermostat ó complete mysteries to me, but vital to operation of a facility such as ours,” Hall says.
Kirks has taken “a big lead” in promoting events for Looking Glass, “and has really helped get our name out there in a big way in a short amount of time,” Hall adds.
Kirks says he likes when everyone is on the same team, enthusiastic and communicating.
Kirks lives in China Grove with his 17-year-old daughter, Miracle.
He made raising Miracle his life’s priority years ago when they moved back to North Carolina from Carson City, Nev., where she was born.
Kirks and his former wife had lost four children through miscarriages before the birth of their daughter, a “Miracle” to them. “I had promised God I wouldn’t get excited until she was seven months pregnant,” Kirks remembers.
He has been a single parent since 1995 and made another promise to God to raise Miracle to the best of his ability, deciding to get off the road as a computer consultant and establish a home for them.
Kirks considers himself an educational advocate for Miracle as she has grown. She was on a computer at 2 years old, and Kirks today will never undersell the Internet.
“That’s my school, basically,” he says.
Through the years, Kirks has worked in avionics for the Navy in Norfolk, Va., and Jacksonville, Fla.; for Houston Power and Light; Sperry Univac in Greensboro; Datapoint in San Antonio; Moore Business Forms; and Dominion Yarn in Landis.
He also has helped his sister, Salisbury architect Karen Kirks Alexander, on some of her Rowan County projects.
Kirks learned a patience for things while working as a computer consultant and being called in by companies to find glitches in their hardware and software communications. Diagnosing the problem sometimes required sleeping in offices overnight, he says.
When he was younger, aptitude tests revealed his logical bent ó an ability, he says, to shut his eyes and see things that aren’t obvious on the surface.
That kind of gift makes him pretty handy.
“He’s easily accessible,” says friend Tom Millspaugh, who runs the Christian nightclub, The Inn. “He’s right there if he has time.”
When Millspaugh started a church several years ago, Kirks “dove in, trying to do everything to help out,” Millspaugh says.
“I haven’t found anything he can’t do electronic-wise,” he adds.
Millspaugh’s church undertook an “Extreme Makeover” type rehabilitation of a woman’s house, and Kirks was invaluable with things related to power, telephone lines, “and whatever needed to be done,” Millspaugh recalls.
“It just blows my mind the stuff this guy knows,” he says.
Kirks also helped set up The Inn’s electronics and sound system. When Millspaugh’s computer crashed recently, he called Kirks for help. Kirks worked on the computer while also setting up Looking Glass Art Collective’s theater for a live performance that night.
Millspaugh describes Kirks as an amicable guy who never yells or swears. “He’s not religious, but he is a Christian,” Millspaugh says.
For the record, Kirks’ middle name is Titus, while Capt. Kirk’s middle name was Tiberius.
Kirks said his family’s name generations ago actually was Kirk. One of his relatives owned a store called Kirk’s and somewhere along the line the apostrophe was dropped and the name Kirks stuck.
Miracle ó James T. Kirks’ pride and joy ó will be a senior this year at South Rowan High.
She’s already studying to be a nurse and working a couple of jobs, paying on her new car.
Kirks likes her personalized license plate, too.