The Kirby family’s track record of entrepreneurship extends back to F.M. Kirby’s co-founding of the F. W. Woolworth Company five-and-dime retail stores.
F.M. Kirby's son, Allan P. Kirby, became a financier and headed the holding company Alleghany Corporation. Allan P. Kirby Jr. served on the Wilkes University Board of Trustees and in the early 1990s sought a way to honor his late father. He continued a family tradition of supporting Wilkes University by choosing to endow a professorship and center that would educate and encourage young people with the vision, ambition and agility to launch and run the businesses of the future. These became the Allan P. Kirby Jr. Professorship and the Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship. Today, F.M. Kirby’s great-grandson Milan S. Kirby continues the tradition by serving on the Wilkes University Board of Trustees and as chair of the Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Board of Managers.