Several years ago, this Gables Great article was published in the Coral Gables News. In light of Kirk Landon’s passing, it deserves another run. Kirk was a man admired, loved, and respected by all who had the good fortune to know him. He was an “encourager” who helped people achieve the seemingly impossible. There are many institutions that would not exist in our community but for this visionary. This wonderful man will be greatly missed.
There are not enough words to fully express the impact that Kirk Landon has had on the quality of life in our community and beyond.
Landon not only supports worthy cultural, social and healthcare initiatives but also provides the many organizations he funds through his private foundations with the benefit of his vast business experience. He is a mentor like few others and those who pay heed certainly benefit.
One of Landon’s most obvious impacts in the Coral Gables community was his seed funding for the Coral Gables Museum project, now under construction. As a philanthropist, Landon is not afraid to take a calculated risk when innovative programs and ideas come his way and our community is all the better for it.
As for his background, Landon was born in New York City and attended public schools in Scarsdale, NY, and Baltimore, MD. He attended Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, VA, where he graduated as valedictorian with rank of Cadet Major in 1946. He then attended the University of Virginia (Charlottesville) School of Engineering, went on to graduate from Georgia Institute of Technology in 1950, with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Management. His most recent degree came 41 years later when he received an Honorary Doctorate of Law from Barry University.
Landon served three years in the U.S. Navy receiving an honorable discharge at the grade of lieutenant in 1952.
That same year he joined American Bankers Life Assurance Company of Florida with duties of Agency Assistant. He assumed responsibility as vice president for Credit Life Division in 1954. Elected chair of the board of both American Bankers Life Assurance Company and American Bankers Insurance Company in 1974, and then chair of the board and CEO of American Bankers Insurance Group from 1980 to 1995. He was chair until the company was sold to Fortis Inc. on Aug. 19, 1999.
In addition, he was chair of the board, Innovative Surveillance Technology, Fort Lauderdale, in 1993; director, Lennar Corporation, Miami, in 1999, and chair of the board, Orange Clothing Company, Miami, in 2001.
Since retiring, Landon is busier than ever as president of the Kirk Foundation, president of the Kirk A. and Dorothy P. Landon Foundation and a valued director of several boards. His community activities are vast, including serving on the boards of the Zoological Society of Florida; Arts for Learning; Community Partnership for Homeless, and Florida International University. He also is an honorary member of the Orange Bowl Committee and the American Red Cross-Miami Chapter.
Landon’s other activities have included serving as vice chair, Board of Trustees, Barry University, from 1983 to 2004; formation of Steering Committee for South Florida Chapter of Phi Gamma Delta, from 1995 to 1996; president of South Florida Chapter of Phi Gamma Delta, from 1996 to 1998, and president, YPO Fortyniners of Florida, WPO Chapter, from 1999 to 2001.
R. Kirk Landon lives in Coral Gables and has two daughters, Kathleen Staley and Kellyann Spears, and a son, Chris Landon. Everywhere you turn, you will see Kirk Landon’s touch from such large institutions as the FIU College of Business Administration’s R. Kirk Landon Undergraduate School of Business and New World Symphony, to the upstart initiative of CoralGables@HOME with the Coral Gables Community Foundation.