Don Kirkland, Sr.

What actions can you take now to ensure the values you cherish endure for generations?

Leaving a legacy is something deeply rooted in the Kirkland family. Their business, Marine Equipment and Supply Company (MESCO), is a legacy that’s been passed down from father to son for more than 100 years.

Don Kirkland, Sr.Don Kirkland, Sr. started working on the floor of his father’s business as a teenager. He joined the Navy at just 17 years of age during World War II, serving four years in active duty. After returning home, Don eventually succeeded his father as company president, maintaining the entrepreneurial spirit and relentless work ethic that built the company, including leading it through the aftermath of a five-alarm fire that nearly destroyed the business.

Don, who passed away in 2016, left an indelible mark on his family, community, and country. Deeply patriotic, he believed people flourish best when blessed with the opportunities available through limited government and free enterprise.

Today, Don’s influence continues to shine through his son, Don Jr., and grandsons, Don III and Andy, all of whom are part of the business and relish the privilege of carrying on MESCO’s 111-year-old legacy. 

Thanks to Don’s generosity and foresight, his legacy also lives on outside the company—and across the country.

His father’s philanthropic convictions were as strong as his work ethic. “He wanted to put his money where his mouth is,” his son explains. “Of course, he was never bellicose about his views, but he cared about this country and where it was going.”

Kirkland family

Don Kirkland, Sr. supported many freedom-advancing organizations, including the Commonwealth Foundation, for 25 years.  He was the first person to make a generous gift in his will to Commonwealth Foundation, and this occasion was honored by naming the legacy society after him.

Don’s vision and generosity epitomize the impact a legacy gift to the Commonwealth Foundation has on future generations of Pennsylvanians. That’s why every donor who leaves this kind of gift to the Commonwealth Foundation becomes a member of the Don Kirkland Society.