Businessman, father, church leader John Kinnett dies at 90


John R. Kinnett Jr., is liable for probably the most iconic landmark in Columbus and ran a profitable household dairy enterprise into its third era till it was bought to an Italian conglomerate in 1998, however he was not outlined by ice cream and milk, his six youngsters stated.

Kinnett died after a quick sickness early Tuesday morning at Columbus Hospice. He was ninety. He was the previous chairman of Kinnett Dairies, Inc., which was began within the Nineteen Twenties by his father, who purchased an ice cream enterprise from his uncles and moved it from Macon to Columbus.

“The enterprise was necessary, nevertheless it was not what outlined him,” eldest daughter Claire Kinnettt Tate stated Tuesday afternoon as she sat in her mother and father front room together with her brother and 4 sisters, most of them consuming milk. “And it was not what he thought was an important, for my part. I consider what was most necessary to him was his religion, participation within the church and transmitting the religion to his youngsters and grandchildren.

“Second to that was his household, to like and look after his household and train them to like and look after one another. The third factor was the enterprise. He labored onerous, was pleased with what he did and he believed in it.”

A celebration of Kinnett’s life shall be held at eleven a.m. Saturday at First Presbyterian Church, the place Kinnett was a lifelong member, taught Sunday faculty and served in numerous lay management positions. There can be a visitation instantly following the service on the church.

Kinnett made many choices operating the dairy, however one outlasted the corporate. Within the late Nineteen Sixties, Kinnett was shifting the milk operation to a bit of land off Manchester Expressway, subsequent to what’s now Peachtree Mall.

“Throughout that point Dad was driving down Victory Drive and noticed this flatbed truck with an enormous cow on it,” stated daughter Brilliant Kinnett Wright. “It was going to Florida. Dad tracked down the producer someplace within the Midwest.”

It was not lengthy earlier than an identical milk cow grazed in entrance of the Kinnett plant. The dairy is gone — changed by an electronics retailer in an indication of the occasions — however Kadie the cow nonetheless has a spot on the highest of the hill, as she has had for almost a half century.

Tommy Adams, a nephew who labored within the household dairy enterprise, remembered a choice Kinnett made within the early Nineteen Sixties that proved worthwhile. It got here shortly after John Kinnett Sr. had turned the operation of Kinnett Dairies over to his son.

“These two males, Irv Robbins and Butch Baskin, got here to see him,” Adams stated. “They have been franchising this enterprise and needed him to be the territory franchiser for Georgia, Alabama, Florida and South Carolina.”

The enterprise, generally known as Baskin-Robbins, turned extremely profitable as the shop introduced dozens of flavors to its clients. Kinnett had the franchise rights for 25 years within the 4 states.

“That turned out to be an awesome determination,” Adams stated. “However I can keep in mind him and my grandfather speaking concerning the 31 flavors. My grandfather stated all you wanted was vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and perhaps Neapolitan.”

Kinnett was the chairman with 5 relations, together with his son, Bob, working within the enterprise in 1998 when one of many final unbiased dairies within the Southeast was bought to Parmalat, an Italian firm.

“He had put his entire life within the enterprise and it was a intestine-wrenching choice,” Adams stated. “However he knew it was the appropriate determination.”

Kinnett served within the U.S. Navy as a medic, arriving in Guam close to the top of World Conflict II. When the conflict ended, he returned to Georgia Tech, the place he had attended one yr earlier than enlisting within the service. A highschool athlete at Columbus Excessive and an novice boxer, Kinnett walked on the soccer staff at Georgia Tech — twice, as soon as earlier than the struggle and as soon as after.

“He broke his arm the primary time and broke his leg the second time,” Bob remembered.

Kinnett graduated from Georgia Tech in 1949 with a level in industrial administration and returned to the household enterprise in Columbus.

Kinnett was married to Betty Blackmon Kinnett for sixty three years earlier than her demise in 2013. They knew one another at Columbus Excessive however didn’t begin courting till school,

That they had six youngsters — Claire Kinnettt Tate, Brilliant Kinnett Wright, Frazer Kinnett Loomis, Jean Kinnett Oliver, John R. (Bob) Kinnett III and Josephine (Jodie) Kinnett Klumpenhower — thirteen years aside. The Kinnetts have 15 grandchildren and 9 nice-grandchildren.

Her mother and father have been an in depth-knit group that produced an in depth-knit household, Claire stated.

“My previous boyfriend used to say that Mother and Dad have been like Congress,” Claire stated. “That in the event you needed to do one thing you needed to get a vote of each homes for it’s permitted. And that’s true.”

John and Betty Kinnett had an extended love affair, Bob stated.

“Mother and Dad adored one another as a lot as any couple of I’ve ever seen — dwelling or fictional,” Bob stated. “They lit up when one another entered the room.”

John and Betty Kinnett raised their household in First Presbyterian Church and it was the middle of their religious life, the youngsters stated. Two years in the past, First Presbyterian went by means of an inner wrestle that led to a vote to remain or depart The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The vote to remain was shut.

“Dad disagreed and took part and tried to make issues higher — that’s how he has all the time finished,” Claire stated. “He was in favor of leaving the denomination and different shut relations have been in favor of staying. He was dissatisfied when the vote went the best way it did.”

Claire remembers calling her father after the vote.

“He stated, ‘I assume I’ll simply have to go away my church,” she stated.

By the subsequent day, he had a change of coronary heart, Claire stated.

“He was on the telephone with individuals who disagreed with him, saying, ‘How can we hold our church?’” she stated. “That’s the proudest I’ve ever been of him.”

Kinnett wrote a letter to the congregation and stated he by no means meant to go away his church, although many did. He was serious about the church up till his remaining days, the youngsters stated.

Over the weekend all the youngsters, who’re scattered from Colorado to Charlotte, have been in Columbus with their dad, who was nonetheless at residence and hours from being transported to Columbus Hospice.

“He has labored to be there on Sundays,” Claire stated. “He began getting very sick on Sunday morning. He referred to as me to the again and he stated, ‘I can’t go to church, however I would like y’all to go as a witness.”

All the youngsters attended the First Presbyterian service on Sunday.

Music was essential to the Kinnetts. The household would sing hymns within the automotive on the best way to church. The hymn “Blest Be the Tie That Binds,” is the one which greatest defines his father, Bob stated.

“The love that we share for each other inside the household, to him, was a present straight from God to us,” Bob stated. “A Christian ought to present that very same love to at least one one other. ‘The Tie that Binds’ exhibits that.”

As he went via his 80s and into his 90s, Kinnett started to lose his shut associates. His greatest pal was Hooper Turner, who died after Betty Kinnett. Kinnett and former W.C. Bradley Co. Chairman Invoice Turner, Hooper’s first cousin, have been shut associates, a friendship cultivated by way of years of being yard neighbors and the truth that Invoice’s spouse, Sue Marie, and Betty Kinnett grew up subsequent door to one another. Two weeks in the past, Kinnett attended Turner’s funeral at St. Luke United Methodist Church.

“I used to be actually stunned to see him there,” stated Cecil Whitaker, his shut pal and neighbor of forty five years. “However he made the trouble to be there. That’s how he was.”

Over the weekend, all the youngsters hung out with their father, singing hymns collectively as late as Monday morning earlier than he went to Hospice.

Via the years, that they had a particular music that they might sing to one another as one left and one other was staying. They referred to as it the “Going Away Track.”

Sunday, as Joan was getting ready to return house to Birmingham, her father started to sing the track.

“Daddy sang each phrase to me Sunday,” Joan stated. “He sat within the chair as a result of he couldn’t exit to the automotive with me. It goes: ‘We’re sorry you’re going away; we want that you would keep; we all know that we’ll miss you; we want we might kiss you; we’re sorry you’re going away.”



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