Lion finds way back to ‘L e Souvenir’ cover _lowres

Photo provided by Southeastern Louisiana University -- A lion drawn by Jeffery Lynn Kirk, a decorated veteran and the deceased son and brother of Southeastern Louisiana University alumni, adorns the cover of the 2015 student yearbook.

Southeastern Louisiana University’s 2015 edition of “Le Souvenir,” the university’s student yearbook, holds special meaning for a family with strong Southeastern ties.

As the deadline to turn in artwork for the 2015 yearbook approached, editor Fernanda Chagas couldn’t find a graphic of SLU’s mascot, a lion, for the cover.

“We haven’t had a lion on the cover for a while, and I wanted to create something that would stand out,” said Chagas, a senior graphic design and printmaking major from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. “I tried creating several versions, and none seemed right.”

Then Chagas had a conversation with friend Lisa Kirk, of Abita Springs.

“When I learned that Fernanda was looking for a lion, I knew I had one that my son Jeffery Lynn had drawn,” said Kirk. “I didn’t know if she would use it, but I said, ‘If you want it, it’s yours.’ It was like it was meant to be. It was fate.”

Jeffery Lynn Kirk, known as Lynn by his family, was a Marine who died in a firefight, along with five other soldiers, in the Middle East in 2004.

His dad, Peter Kirk, and brother, Benjamin Kirk, are both SLU alums.

Chagas said the artwork was exactly what she had envisioned for the cover.

“The theme of the yearbook is memories, which made the cover even more special. I am honored to have been given the opportunity to use this illustration,” Chagas said. “It was the last piece of the puzzle I’ve been working on for the past year.”

Lynn Kirk enlisted in the Marines a few months after his high school graduation.

Although he had never received formal art training, according to his mother, he often created designs for T-shirts or tattoos at the request of his fellow soldiers.

After serving his first tour in the Middle East, Lynn Kirk volunteered for a second tour of duty. His mother said even after being wounded in Fallujah, he opted to stay with his unit rather than coming home.

For his valor and gallantry in combat, Lynn Kirk was awarded the Silver Star and the Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster.

For his brother, who graduated from Southeastern this past May, the yearbook has taken on new meaning.

“It made me feel proud to know that I’ll be able to look at it in the future, and it will have the good memories of my college experience and of my brother,” Benjamine Kirk said.