Kirkbrides moved from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., in the early 1970s, they donated their nineteenth-century home in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, to Widener College. Today the Billie Kirkbride House, named in honor of Mrs. Kirkbride, is the official residence of the university president. In addition to his involvement with Widener, Kirkbride maintained close ties with his former Texas A&M colleagues, working with them and with Widener faculty on several consulting projects. He was an avid reader who maintained a library of more than 1,000 technical and research books in his home.
Kirkbride served on the boards of several prominent professional and industry groups, including the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) from 1946 to 1948 and 1950 to 1955; he was vice president in 1953, president in 1954, and past president in 1955. From 1947 to 1952, he was treasurer of the Petroleum Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society. From 1958 to 1969, he was a director of the Coordinating Research Council Incorporated, an industry group organized by Walter C. Teagle of Standard Oil Company of New Jersey and Alfred P. Sloan of General Motors to promote technology sharing between the petroleum and automobile industries; in 1967, he was council president. From 1965 to 1969, he was chairman of the National Security Industrial Association’s Ocean Science and Technology Advisory Committee.
Kirkbride received numerous honors during his long career. In 1967, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. AIChE honored him with the Professional Progress Award in 1951, the Founders Award in 1967, and the Fuels and Petrochemicals Award in 1976; in 1983, on the occasion of the AIChE’s Diamond Jubilee, he was named one of “Thirty Eminent Chemical Engineers of America.” In 1964, the Delaware County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers named him Engineer of the Year, and in 1971, the Engineers Club of Philadelphia awarded him the George Washington Medal, the club’s highest honor. Government honors included service on President Richard M. Nixon’s Task Force on Oceanography in 1969 and