Charles “Tom” Kinn died at his home on Saturday April 24th after suffering from colon cancer for two years.
Tom was born in Spokane WA in 1954 to Doris and Charles “Chuck” Kinn. He attended Gonzaga Prep Jesuit high school, starting a lifelong interest in science, teaching, and progressive politics. He earned his BS in Biology at Eastern Washington University and his teaching degree from Western Washington University. In 1977 he drove to Alaska to start his first teaching job at Anderson High School. There, he met Lindy Bryson, also teacher at Anderson School. Lindy and Tom covered many, many miles sharing adventures touring on their bikes, skiing, and camping together. In 1983, less than a year after they met, they were married in Fairbanks and shortly after, both took teaching jobs in North Pole.
Tom taught Earth Science at North Pole High School from 1984 to 2009. He was well liked by both his students and his fellow teachers. Excerpts from Tom’s teaching evaluations recall a “very patient, tall” teacher, “knowledgeable about the natural history of Alaska,” and as someone who was “not assigning a lot of homework”. Combining his love for earth science and his gift of teaching, Tom organized narrated geology field trips throughout Alaska, driving a van full of students to various exposed rock faces and glaciers to explain the forces that shaped the landscape that he knew and loved.
Tom and Lindy have two sons, Alex and Aaron. As a parent and husband, he was exactly as he was as a teacher – patient, kind, and persistently interested in the natural sciences.
Tom loved his Spokane family and went home to visit every year. He is survived by his mother Doris, his brothers Steve and Bill and sister-in-law Janeth Kinn and brother-in-law Bob Runkel, as well as much loved and numerous nieces and nephews.
After Tom was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he underwent a series of chemotherapy treatments as well as surgery with the goal of extending his life. When asked what he wanted to do with his remaining years, Tom’s answer was simple: nothing different.
Tom’s was a rare life, one of fulfillment with simple things – the joy of spending time with family and friends, of a career sharing his passion with others, and of quiet retirement. He liked naps and a good cup of drip coffee. He took about fifteen minutes to brush his teeth, just because he like to do things thoroughly. In the end, Tom liked to watch the chickadees outside of his window. He asked every day if the bluebells had started to bloom. He will be sincerely missed.
Donations in Tom’s memory can be made to KUAC, The Alaska Songbird Institute, or Compassion & Choices.