The temperatures in Burlington remained below freezing the night Kirby walked to the church. The low temperature overnight was about 8 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
Church Pastor Becky Crites told WFMY in Greensboro that Kirby was not a regular attendee of services, but was apparently planning to attend a meeting there the night of Jan. 1. She and her congregation were praying for his family, Crites said.
"To his family and those who know him and love him, we are all very saddened (by) their loss," Crites told the news station. "It just reminds us that we need to pay attention to the care that we give our neighbors, always and all walks of life."
Kirby's obituary described him as a free spirit who "would speak up and express himself in very unique ways."
"He loved family gatherings and enjoyed talking to everyone," the obituary read. "He made a lasting impression upon all who knew him."
Kirby struggled during his life, but counted among his “most cherished accomplishments” being recognized for 14 years of sobriety in 2016, the obituary read.
"He could often be seen showing off his award and encouraging others who were still struggling," it read. "Frankie found his passion, peace and purpose in life as a part of the N.A. community. He touched many lives and, as a result, leaves many lasting memories."
Kirby is survived by his mother, six siblings and a host of other relatives and friends.