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Millard H. "Mel" Kinney

1929 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Millard H. "Mel" Kinney Obituary
Kinney, Millard H. (Mel)
Millard H. (Mel) Kinney, Emeritus Professor of Music at Northern Arizona University (NAU), died Wednesday, March 9, 2016 in Sun City West, Arizona. Mel was born in Ontario, Oregon on February 10, 1929 to Alice (nee Brink) and Lloyd Kinney. He is survived by cousin Marjorie Bailey, her son Gregory Fuller, and his daughters Chelsea Jean and Allison Ann Fuller, all of Beaverton, Oregon. A memorial service and a celebration of life will be held Saturday, April 16, 2016, at 3 PM in the sanctuary at the Sun Lakes United Methodist Church, 9248 E. Riggs Rd., Sun Lakes, Arizona 85248. Few men have likely ever achieved the legacy Mel Kinney has left. In the 30 plus years he taught at NAU he developed first-rate choirs of all types. His "Splinters" did several storied USO tours abroad. The crowning choral music work of Mel's career was the "Shrine of the Ages Concert Choir". When he became the conductor of that storied ensemble, they were still part of the NBC broadcast (begun in 1939) of the Easter sunrise at Arizona's Grand Canyon. After the radio broadcast ended, Shrine built a reputation throughout the United States as a superb collegiate choir, a reputation that continues to thrive today. Mel also developed several events that still occur in Flagstaff. The NAU Jazz and Madrigal Festivals (begun in 1977 with 7 choirs invited) continues today, with approximately 140 high school choral ensembles performing in 6 different Flagstaff venues every February. Mel began the renowned "NAU Christmas Dinner" 41 years ago and the four evening dinner performances sell out in only a few days. For those Arizonans who love choral music, admission to this dinner/performance is a highly sought ticket. Several awards were presented to Mel during his time at NAU. In 1980, it was the NAU Faculty and Students' Recognition of Service Award. The American Choral Directors Association honored him in 1985. After Mel's retirement, NAU Shrine alumni created the "Mel Kinney Scholarship" in 1990. In 2005, Mel was inducted into the Arizona Hall of Fame by the Arizona Music Educators Association. Finally, two years ago in December, Dr. Edith Copley honored Mel by commissioning a new choral piece for him to conduct at the 2014 NAU Holiday Dinner (the 40th anniversary of the dinner). This was also a reunion of Mel's alums and was to be his final performance at his beloved university. After his retirement from NAU in 1985, Mel's influence continued to grow in the area of church choral music. He served as the Minister of Music at the Church of the Beatitudes in Phoenix, Arizona for ten years and later served as the Director of Music at the Sun Lakes United Methodist Church in Sun Lakes, Arizona. The impact of his teaching and music-making was just as potent for his singers in those churches as it had been at NAU and he grew the choirs to greater numbers than they had previously known. Mel knew how to love every person for who they were and made friends in every aspect of his life. His "family" was huge. Countless people from all walks of life have been impacted by his love and energy are saddened to lose a truly great man. Memorial contributions may be made to the Mel Kinney Scholarship Fund, NAU Foundation, PO Box 4094, Flagstaff, AZ 86011-4094, or online at naualumni.com/givetonau. To leave condolence messages for Mel's family please visit www.sunlandmemorial.com.
Published in The Arizona Republic on Apr. 10, 2016
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