Major James A. "Jim" Birney, 83, Topeka, was promoted to Glory on Sunday, December 20, 2020.
He was born June 10, 1937, in Greenwood, South Carolina, the son of Francis and Esther (Hall) Birney. He graduated from Rocky Mount High School and attended Spartanburg Methodist College.
He served in the Air Force, with active tours in Turkey and Vietnam during the Vietnam War. After nine years of service, he was honorably discharged. He and his wife, then accepted the call to serve as officers in the Salvation Army, being commissioned in 1971, in the "Victorious" session. They were stationed in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Minnesota. They retired to Topeka, Kansas with the rank of Major after 32 years of service.
Jim played various instruments for the Salvation Army, finally settling on the tuba as his instrument of choice. He participated in Tuba Christmas performances in the Midwest, most recently at Union Station in Kansas City.
He was a mentor to countless Salvationists. His legacy will continue for decades because of his love for Jesus, his "Moosicals", camp food songs, poetry, endless stories and memories.
He was a member of the Kiwanis Club serving as governor in both Minnesota and Kansas. He was also a member of the V.F.W. and American Legion.
James married LaVonne B. (Souther) Birney on October 15, 1961 in Minot, North Dakota. She survives. Other survivors include two daughters, Beatrice (Terry) Kennedy and Annette (John) Talbot; and three grandchildren, Aubrey (Stephen) Kocsis, Jordan Talbot (Chris Hayes), and Steven Talbot.
He was preceded in death by his parents and four siblings, Robert Birney, Mildred Birney, Esther Boone, and Mary Ruth Luper Greene.
Private family graveside services with military honors will be held at the Memorial Park Cemetery, 3616 SW Sixth Ave., Topeka.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Salvation Army, 3637 Broadway, Kansas City, MO 64111 for the Captain Robert F. Birney Endowed CMI Scholarship.
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