In Memory: Guy Kinman ”40

Guy Malcolm Kinman Jr., 100, died September 17 in Richmond, VA.

Born December 23, 1917, in Hevener, OK, he was the son of Eva and Guy Kinman, Sr.

Kinman was a 1936 graduate of Texas Military Institute High School in San Antonio. He attended the University of Texas-Austin for two years and completed his college work at Wabash. While attending Wabash he was a member of the Glee Club and Kappa Sigma.
After college, he enrolled in the McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago and graduated in 1943. Kinman served as minister to churches in Illinois and Minnesota, followed by six years as a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force. He moved to Richmond, VA in 1960 to begin a new career. He was employed as a sales counselor for Snelling & Snelling, an employment agency, for almost 20 years.

He was married for 10 years to Henrietta Sadler before embracing his sexuality in his 50s, a freedom that opened his eyes to a calling that became his life’s work.

A former president of the Richmond-Virginia Gay Alliance, Kinman fearlessly embarked on a billboard campaign in 1985 to raise awareness of the LGBTQ community, something he’d later call one of his proudest moments. He later worked on behalf of elder members of that community, helping to organize a Richmond chapter of Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders, or SAGE.

A plaque presented to Kinman on his 100thbirthday by the Mayor of Richmond, VA, confirmed that the Richmond City Council declared Kinman’s birthday, December 23, to be Guy Kinman Day in perpetuity.

A Remembrance
Everything I know about Guy Kinman ’40 has a lasting effect. He was a gift of a human being.

I met Guy in the summer of 2016 after an email from Wabash Professor Jeff Drury. He mentioned that he knew an alumnus—Class of 1940!—who had an interesting story that I should look into.

I did. And with each passing conversation, Guy revealed a wonderful ability to turn a phrase in just the right way to make you feel special. I was so grateful for the parts of his story he shared with me—his family’s history, his days on the Wabash campus, his time as a chaplain in the Air Force, his marriage, the realization that he was gay as he approached his 60s, and his tireless efforts serving as an advocate for the LGBTQ community in Richmond and greater Virginia for the last 40 years of his life.

Imagine being an openly gay man and advocate in Richmond, VA, in the mid-1980’s. His strength and courage were remarkable. The Billboard Project—which placed billboards across the Richmond community that read: “Someone You Know is Gay. Maybe Even Someone You Love.”—serves as a fitting and lasting legacy for Guy. Those 10 words humanize the interaction from all sides. It wasn’t about right and wrong with Guy—it was about someone you know and love who is worthy of love and loving; nothing more, nothing less.

I’ve enjoyed gathering Guy’s Wabash story more than any other, and I didn’t realize why until after I learned of his death. Guy inspired me. He seemed to move so easily, so confidently, through his life’s many changes. I have switched careers and changed up a few things in my own life, and Guy showed me there was no need for doubt or second-guessing.

I do have one regret, though. Ever since our first conversation I wanted to bring Guy back to campus one more time. The Glee Club’s 125th anniversary was our initial goal. It was talked about, but for a multitude of reasons, we never got it done.
As I thought back on our relationship, I pulled up the email Guy sent me in February, the last I received from him. His closing words delivered another lasting lesson about deep connections to Wabash, to this “good place,” even for someone who had not been back in almost 80 years:

Yes, I wish it were possible to visit the campus one more time!
My best to you always,

—Richard Paige