Paul LaMar Kinsey Sr., 93, passed away peacefully Sunday, May 3, 2020, at Maine Veteran’s Home in Augusta due to complications of congestive heart failure, COPD and dementia.
Paul was born in Warsaw, to William L. and Marian Roose Kinsey. He was the oldest boy in a family of eight children and grew up on their “working” farms.
In 1943, at the age of 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy to serve his country during World War II.
As a “seaman first class,” Paul was assigned as first loader of a 40 mm weapon aboard the USS LSM – 148 Amphibious Forces in the South Pacific, which earned five battle stars for its WWII service. After numerous missions, the ship returned home safely in 1946 with no casualties. However, in 1945 at the close of the war, they did encounter Typhoon “Louise” that nearly wiped them out and required drydocking for repairs. The typhoon seriously damaged and sunk many U.S. ships, destroyed most of the island’s military facilities on Okinawa and killed and seriously injured many – with others missing. Imagine making it through a brutal war and then wondering if you will make it through a storm. His shared memories and experiences are akin to having our own family’s living, breathing history book of true events and survival.
If I may – just one of Paul’s many WWII happenings … “Jap planes were flying overhead and we couldn’t get our weapon to fire. When the attack was over, the Skipper asked – ‘WHY?’ – I told him it appeared to be a loading problem and he had me investigate further. After taking the weapon apart, I saw that the ‘gunner’s mate,’ who is responsible to know every weapon on the ship, had put one of the parts together improperly. I was trained stateside in Virginia Beach, Va., how to assemble the 40 mm weapon while blindfolded – no problem! After that, the Skipper said no one messes with that weapon again but Paul! On a final note – it’s a blessing that the weapon didn’t fire because the Jap planes passed us right over as they were attacking those ships firing at them.”
Following his U.S. Navy discharge in 1946, he drove bus for his dad at the Kinsey Coach Line, joined the U.S. National Guard (1950-1953) and worked for USGS in Alaska surveying and mapping. On his way to becoming self-employed, Paul built grain mills and feed silos in Indiana, Connecticut and Maine through the ’60s into the ’70s. In the mid ’70s, he opened an aluminum truck cap enterprise in Sidney Maine operating into the ’80s. He then went to work for Cianbro Corporation in Pittsfield, Maine, as a millwright/rigger/supervisor working several projects from hydroelectric dams, paper mill refurbishments, compressed gas plants and bridge construction. Later in his career with Cianbro, he ventured into the field as a job site safety supervisor/manager. He worked in this capacity until his retirement for health reasons in the late ’80s. Upon retiring, he and his wife, Ruby, spent many enjoyable relaxing years with family and friends while dividing their time between Florida, North Carolina and Maine (Rockwood/Moosehead Lake).
Paul loved NASCAR racing! Carl Edwards and Joey Langano were his recent favorite drivers. While living in Connecticut in the 1960s, he owned and raced NASCAR modified series cars with friend Marshall Smith; racing primarily in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Former Daytona 500 winner, Pete Hamilton, once drove one of their cars.
Also, while living in Connecticut, he dedicated a few years as a Little League baseball coach in the ’60s for his son’s baseball team and continued his support into the ’70s assisting with different levels of baseball activities.
Paul was an avid hunter and fisherman who loved being “up north” with the guys. He attended many seasons of Maine moose hunts in the North Maine Woods with family and friends – sometimes as the “in camp” cook and dog sitter and other times scouting. At the ripe old age of 87 in 2013, he finally scored a moose permit. He happily accepted the challenge and bagged himself a respectable 16-point bull! He also spent many summers fishing Moosehead Lake with his good buddy, Noel (Clem) Vigue … LOTS of stories to tell there. Haha! They were fondly known as the “Grumpy Old Men.”
Paul was predeceased by his loving wife of 58 years, Ruby Marie Hale Kinsey, in 2010; son, Gary Lee in 2006; parents, Bill and Marian; two brothers, Richard and John; and three sisters: Katie, Maxine and Patricia.
He is survived by daughters, Paula Sue (Robert) Preston, of Clearwater, Fla.; Rita Kay (Robert/Whipper) Wheelock, of Augusta, Maine; son, Paul LaMar (Lisa) Kinsey, of Angier, N.C.; grandsons, Brian (Krista) Preston and Jon Paul Preston, of Show Low, Ariz.; Bobby (Sarah Rae) Wheelock and Damon Wheelock, of Augusta, Maine; Wesley Kinsey, of Angier, N.C.; Taylor Kinsey, of Durham, N.C.; Christopher Kinsey, of Elkhart; granddaughter, Holly (Charlie) Plourde, of Vassalboro, Maine; great-grandchildren, Jeremy (Maddie) Preston-Banks, of Brooksville, Fla. (twins expected in July for a couple more great-greats); Felicia (Brad) Mead, of Pinellas Park, Fla.; Anthony (Chelcie) Preston, of Pinetop, Ariz; Alexander Preston, of Show Low, Ariz; Amani Yin Plourde, of Vassalboro, Maine; great-great-grandchildren, Zoey Mead, of Pinellas Park, Fla.; AndeLynn, Allison and Aubree Preston, of Pinetop, Ariz.; brother, Larry (Linda) Kinsey, of North Webster; sister, Cynthia Hamilton, of Newport, Tenn; and many nieces and nephews.
We are very blessed to have been able to care for and enjoy this great man at home until his final weeks. He wore a great many hats … son, brother, cousin, uncle, husband, father, grandfather “Papa”, friend and veteran. Paul cared deeply for his country, his family and friends; he had a very beautiful, kind and generous soul.
We are forever grateful to the faithful loving care he received at Maine Veteran’s Home during his final days. We praise TOGUS VA for the outstanding care he received for countless years. We offer many thanks to MaineGeneral in Augusta, Maine; MaineHealth in Portland, Maine; Northern Light California; Dean Hospital in Greenville, Maine; and Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, Maine; for his excellent care during his times of hospitalization and healing.
A private family viewing will be at Plummer Funeral Home in Augusta followed by a graveside service at Kling Cemetery. A celebration of Paul’s life will be held at a later date with military honors when public health concerns have been erased and family and friends can safely gather to toast the remarkable life of this man who will be sorely missed.
Memorials to the Alzheimer’s Association. Or just do something wonderful to encourage another – Paul would love that!