Obituary : Brian S. Kinal
Brian Sean Kinal, 60, of 45 Greenwood Avenue in Vineyard Haven, died at his home on April 23.
Mr. Kinal was born in Buffalo, N.Y., on June 23, 1947, the son of Dr. Murl E. Kinal and Constance Colleen Davis Kinal.
Mr. Kinal retired in 2001 from a career in newspaper journalism, and moved to Martha's Vineyard from Erie, Penn. He had worked for 25 years for the Erie Times-News as a reporter, editor, writing coach and columnist. He won many writing and editing awards. In 1996 and again in 1999, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publishers Association named him Best Columnist in a field of a dozen daily newspapers. He was the only writer at the Times-News to win that award twice.
Once conversant in the Russian language, Mr. Kinal spent a month in 1987 traveling independently in Russia and Ukraine. That was during the Gorbachev era, and four years before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Upon his return, he wrote a ten-part series titled "Alone in Russia," illustrated with 25 of his own photographs. At he time, it was the longest-running series ever in the Times-News.
Earlier in his career, he worked for the Erie Press, the Kettering-Oakwood Times in Dayton, Ohio, and the Jamestown Post-Journal in Jamestown, N.Y. He was also a freelance writer whose works were published in The Saturday Evening Post, Providence Journal and elsewhere.
He had a particular interest in law enforcement. In the mid-1990s, a series of stories about juvenile violence earned him an award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. Another series of stories about why condemned murderers live for many years on Death Row prompted a libel suit by one of the prisoners. Mr. Kinal successfully defended himself in that suit. In 2001, his stories about a ten-year unsolved murder helped lead to the arrest and conviction of the killer.
In 2000, Mr. Kinal became a licensed private detective in Pennsylvania, and operated his own detective firm. In his most prominent case, he led police to one of Erie's "Ten Most Wanted" criminals. Aimette Sandrock, Mr. Kinal's wife, worked as a certified investigator for his company.
A post-retirement career as a private detective was his plan, but Martha's Vineyard beckoned. In July 2001, Mr. Kinal retired from the Times-News, resigned his detective commission, and moved to the Vineyard with his wife. They occupied her long-time home in Vineyard Haven.
Mr. Kinal accepted a position as an administrator with the Tisbury Police Department. In June 2002, he took the oath as a Tisbury Special Officer, having completed the 215-hour Police Reserve Academy in Plymouth. At age 55, he was the oldest member of his academy class of 70 recruits.
In 2003 Mr. Kinal joined the Oak Bluffs Police Department as a Special Officer. He was awarded a Medal of Commendation in 2004 for his role in attempting to save the life of a heart attack victim. A cancer diagnosis in January 2005 caused him to resign as a police officer.
In the 1960s, Mr. Kinal attended Gannon College in Erie and the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio. He served in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve from 1967-71, and his service included three months of active duty at Coast Guard Station Woods Hole in 1967. He was helmsman aboard the buoy tender White Sage, which sailed out of Woods Hole. During his stint at that base, he was an interpreter to the first Russian ship to work cooperatively with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.
From 1970 to 1974, Mr. Kinal lived in the San Francisco Bay area, and worked in the airfreight industry at San Francisco Airport. He was an outdoorsman and conservationist, and served as a fire lookout on Mount Tamalpais during the 1973 fire season.
On Martha's Vineyard, he was active in the Roman Catholic Good Shepherd Parish, and sang in the choir.
Mr. Kinal belonged to the Martha's Vineyard Rod & Gun Club, where he had been chairman of the pistol range and ran the annual pistol tournament for three years. He was also a member of the Barnacle Club in Vineyard Haven.
Mr. Kinal and Ms. Sandrock met in Oak Bluffs in September 1993, and were inseparable from that moment. She was the great love of his life.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his stepfather, John Thompson, and his mother-in-law, Doris Sandrock, of West Bridgewater. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his step-children, Isis Tara of Vineyard Haven, Coast Guard Petty Officer Corey (Alex) Clark of Mays Landing, N.J., and Howard Clark of Avon, Col.; two sisters, Destiny Kinal of Berkeley, Calif., and Candace Kinal Hines of Essex Junction, Vt.; two brothers, Lance Kinal of Findley Lake, N.Y., and Sean Kinal of Westfield, N.Y.; his adopted son, Dr. Hai Kinal of Springfield; a friend of more than 50 years, Kevin McCarthy of Marblehead; three grandchildren, an aunt, three cousins, and many beloved nieces and nephews.
A funeral mass will be celebrated at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Oak Bluffs on May 3 at 11 am with the Rev. Henry Rancourt officiating. A reception will follow (location to be announced). Interment will be at the family's convenience.
Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of Martha's Vineyard, P.O. Box 2549, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557, or to The Martha's Vineyard Cancer Support Group, P.O. Box 2214, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.