February 12, 1931 – October 21, 2010
He was a pioneer in everything that he did in life, whether it was going to school and being the first African American to earn a Masters Degree in Engineering Management from Milwaukee School of Engineering, to breaking color barriers in the neighborhoods where he lived, or in the workplace… Carl Walter Birks made a difference and always left a positive impact.
He was raised in Detroit, Michigan, and attended Wayne State University where he received his undergraduate degree in Chemistry. He then returned to Wayne State to receive another undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering. While there he “crossed the burning sands” into the oldest black fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated. He was a life member of the Fraternity. His pride shined brightly when he would sing the Fraternity’s Hymn. Carl was truly “Black and Gold” to the end and beyond. He also served the organization in a leadership capacity on a local, statewide and regional levels making sure that the image of Alpha was never compromised.
Carl, a devout Christian always had GOD as a priority in his life. Even as a young man at Bethel A.M.E. Church in Detroit, Michigan, where he was involved in youth initiatives. Bethel was also where he met his soul mate and future wife, Barbara Juanita Lewis also of Detroit, Michigan.
As a young adult, Carl served his country in the Korean Conflict and was stationed in Germany during the mid 1950’s as a Sergeant in the Army Medical Corp.
On April 30, 1955, in a private ceremony of family and close friends, Carl pledged his love and life to his soul mate, Barbara Juanita Lewis. Since that time, they have been inseparable. She was his best friend and confidant for the past 55 years. From this union, Carl and Barbara were blessed with three daughters, Karen Birks Pace (Robert), Gail Birks, Elaine Birks Mitchell (Johnny). Carl also has a son, Stephen Ebert (Maria).
His greatest gifts in life were his grandchildren, Courtney Michelle Askins, Angela Kia Pace, Mark Pace, Christos Ebert, Carmen Oezsahin (Goekhan) and Benjamin Ebert. He was blessed with two great grand- daughters, Nia Pace, January, 2008 and Sophia Oezsahin in August, 2010.
Carl’s passion for reaching back and helping others was extraordinary. He founded the St. Mark A.M.E. Church Anvil Karate Club where he educated young people and adults on self-defense, selfrespect and establishing their personal goals in life. He saw a need to celebrate our young black men in Milwaukee and founded the Alpha Phi Alpha Beautillion, a scholarship event that honors young men who are seniors in high school who have excelled in academics and other areas of interest. He was also a father to those who did not have one to love them.
Carl was affiliated with many organizations, but was a dedicated member to St. Mark A.M. E. Church where he served as a Trustee, a member of the Men’s Ensemble and the Men’s Fellowship, a Mentor to young men and women, a father to those who had none to call their own and most important, a shepherd for those who sought a relationship with Christ.
October 21, 2010 at 9:30am while surrounded by his beloved family, Carl made a peaceful transition. He is also survived by a brother, Dr. Robert Cremo Birks of Detroit, Michigan, nieces, Cheryl Robin Birks, and Lynelle Georgette Birks Carr (Chris), and a nephew, Robert Steven Birks (James), and a cousin, Susan Ford (Tom). Carl also has a grand-niece Christine Carr. He is loved by a multitude of other family members and friends.
While his big heart and enormous laugh will be missed, he will forever hold a special place in all of our hearts. We know that he lived his life his way and that GOD and the arch angels are celebrating along with us for a job well done.