Herbert Leslie Kinney

KinneyHerbert Leslie Kinney, 98, on December 23, 2020, at home in Eugene, Ore. Herb was born on April 26, 1922, to Ethel Upham and Elisha Stanton Kinney in Plainfield, Mass. Herb’s father died when Herb was three. His mother returned to the Upham Homestead in Townsend, Mass., where he spent his early childhood. Herb attended Ayer High School, graduating with high honors in 1940. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1942 and served in the European Theater of Operations, reaching the rank of captain.

In 1945, Herb married high school classmate Sarah Longley (Betsie), and resumed his education. In 1949, he graduated cum laude from Amherst College. Living in the GI village on campus with young families was a uniquely heartwarming experience. The highlight of his senior year came while writing his thesis on human rights when he interviewed Eleanor Roosevelt over lunch at Hyde Park in New York. Herb received a master’s of business administration from George Washington University, and, in 1962, was selected as the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) “designated student” to attend the Defense Industrial College at Fort McNair.

Herb worked briefly for the Tennessee Valley Authority in Knoxville, Tenn., and, in 1951, took a position with the AEC in Oak Ridge, Tenn. In 1956, he transferred to AEC headquarters in Washington, D.C. He worked in the Division of Research on projects related to peaceful uses of atomic energy. In 1979, the family moved to Long Island, N.Y., where Herb worked for 14 years at the Brookhaven National Laboratory as special assistant to the director.

Firmly opposed to war and violence, Herb, Betsie, and their two children, Jon (born in 1946) and Katie (born in 1951), joined Sandy Spring (Md.) Meeting. Herb and Betsie served the meeting in many capacities and were warmly appreciated. Herb’s calm demeanor and wry humor helped diffuse testy debates and enliven long meetings. He was an accomplished speaker with a voice that carried well, and he had an incisive grasp of important issues.

Herb and Betsie were avid gardeners known for their spectacular rock gardens. Betsie recalls with a wry smile moving “tons of rocks” to create a large rock garden in Long Island. They took up growing orchids and were widely known for their extensive and beautiful collection.

In 1998, Herb and Betsie moved to California’s Mojave Desert to be close to their daughter and her family. Four years later they followed the young family to Oregon, settling in Coos Bay. Herb and Betsie became beloved members of the Florence Worship Group, inviting the group to their home once a month for meeting for worship.

In July 2020, Herb and Betsie joyously celebrated their seventy-fifth anniversary. Theirs was a long and happy life together, full of love and respect, but also included devastating sadness. Their son, Jon, a naturalist ranger in Yosemite Park, died in 1986, victim of an automobile accident. Their daughter, Katie, died in 2015.

In 2017, Herb and Betsie took up residence at the Springs at Greer Gardens, an assisted living facility in Eugene, Ore., near their son-in-law. Part of their orchid collection came with them, and the remainder was donated to the Coos Bay Orchid Society. They were delighted to be living next door to a mature rhododendron forest. They attended Eugene Meeting, where they offered heartfelt witness.

Herb was predeceased by his son, Jon Kinney; and daughter, Katie Wash. He is survived by his wife of 75 years, Betsie Kinney; a son-in-law, David Wash; two grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

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