Remembered fondly

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JAY – Parker Kinney was a town leader for nearly a decade and shared his knowledge, kindness and artistic talent with people he knew and didn’t know.

Kinney, 70, died Saturday at a Farmington hospital due to complications from asbestosis, his wife, Janet Kinney, said Monday. There will be no funeral services at her husband’s request, she said.

The door of Parker Kinney’s workshop, tucked off Route 4, was always open to people who wanted to discuss local issues or anything else that affected townspeople. They would gather around the woodstove to debate topics in the same place where he made baskets, canes, canoes, spoons, wood-carved birds, paintings and more.

He always had multiple projects going and gave many away as gifts.

He also chronicled the history of the town, collecting articles and other tidbits in binders.

Kinney resigned as selectman in November 2004 after his health deteriorated. He had served as a boiler tender as a young man in the U.S. Navy filling oil tanks on an aircraft carrier stateside and overseas. He had asbestos in both lungs and used oxygen to help him breathe in his later years. The steady tempo of the oxygen machine beat throughout selectmen’s meetings before his resignation.

Kinney served as selectman from 1995 to 2004, with the exception of one year, and as chairman for some of that. He also was interim town manager for a brief stint and was involved in many committees to improve the town.

He received the Ethel Kelley Memorial Award from the Maine Municipal Association in October 2004 for conscientiously serving local government for many years, demonstrating the capability and willingness to hold it all together.

As a young man, Kinney became disabled from a heart attack while working at the paper mill in 1972. Though his expectations for his future were bleak, he was able to make his life productive and contribute to society, Town Manager Ruth Marden wrote in her letter of support then.

“Parker was a pillar of the community and you could always count on him to be willing to participate and offer his suggestions,” Marden said Monday. “Even after he was sick and he resigned, he was one of my biggest supporters and I shall miss him.”

Kinney told Marden once that he gave away his canes and other creations because it was one of the ways he could give back, she said. His canes and walking sticks were striking, some made from contrasting wood such as ash and cherry and others made from tree branches.

“He always had a twinkle in his eye when he wanted to give you something,” Marden said. “He has a lasting legacy in Jay.”

Jay resident Priscilla Smith and her husband, Terry, were good friends with Kinney.

She described him as a very knowledgeable, caring person with many artistic talents, especially with wood.

She has several baskets that he gave her, Smith said, ranging from a planter to a waste basket and even one he gave her to use in her garden.

“But it was too pretty,” she said, so she uses it in her sewing room.

Sylvia Ridley of Jay, who went to Jay High School with Kinney, said he was very interested in town affairs.

“He did a lot for the town,” she said. “I just think he was a great guy. He was always interested in what was going on and always had an opinion on everything, which suits me fine.”

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