Richard Kirby's radiocommunications career spans over fifty years. He was first licensed as an amateur radio operator in 1938 and he served a stint as a Western Union telegrapher in 1940 and 1941. During World War II he served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, specializing in radio propagation studies and frequency utilization, and after the war he was Assistant Radio Officer and frequency manager in Gen. Douglas MacArthur's Pacific Headquarters. Between 1948 and 1995 he was active in the U.S. National Bureau of Standards and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in radio propagation, technical standards, and frequency utilization. In 1974 he was elected Director ofthe ITU's CCIR (International Radiocommunication Consultative Committee).
Mr. Kirby has also been quite active in the IEEE and the Communications Society. On the merger of the AIEE and IRE in 1963, leadership of both communication groups asked Kirby to organize and chair a new International Communication Conference, and he was instrumental in transforming the old IEEE Group on Communication Technology into the full fledged IEEE Communications Society in 1971. ComSoc has recognized his achievements and leadership on several occasions, most notably by giving him the Donald W. McLellan Meritorious Service Award in 1979 and the Award for Public Service in 1990.