UNION CITY, Tenn. (AP) — Friends and family members say Robert Kirkland, an entrepreneur and philanthropist who built a national chain of home decor stores and donated $100 million to found the Discovery Park of America education center and tourist attraction in northwest Tennessee, has died at age 77.
Kirkland's son, Chris, told The Associated Press that his father died Saturday morning from complications stemming from kidney failure. A memorial service is scheduled for Wednesday at Discovery Park, which will be closed to the general public on that day.
Kirkland was born in Newberry, South Carolina, but he lived in Union City for much of his life. In 1966, he and cousin Carl Kirkland founded the Kirkland's home decor stores, which expanded into a chain of more than 300 locations in 35 states.