Clarence John Kinna, 77, of Fairfield, surrounded by his loving wife and family, passed away at his home in the early morning hours on Thursday, April 25, 2014 and with great joy, entered into the loving arms of his Heavenly Father after a long and debilitating illness.
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C.J. was born on July 4, 1936 to John C. and Fern B. Kinna in Great Falls, Mont. – the oldest of five children.
A 1954 graduate of Simms High School, C.J. went on to earn advanced degrees in elementary education and school administration from the College of Great Falls and Western Montana College. As he believed education was a life-long pursuit, C.J. earned his Doctorate of Education Administration.
C.J. was a firm believer in giving back to his country and as such served with the United States Air Force (Montana Air National Guard) with the 120th Fighter Group from 1953–1966 when he resigned his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant.
In 1960 C.J. met and married the love of his life, Dorothy Joan Leep, and together started their 53-year marriage and life together.
C.J. started his teaching career in Fairfield in 1956 and in the ensuing years until his retirement in 2001 held teaching and administration positions in Sun River, Greenfield, Simms, and Fairfield.
Following his retirement from Fairfield Public Schools, C.J. was chief of staff to former Lt. Gov. Allen Kolstad, and former Gov. Stan Stephens from 1989-1993. With his love and knowledge of education, C.J. was appointed to fill a need as interim superintendent for the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind. While interim C.J. developed a deep love and respect for the staff and students at MSDB and became the full-time superintendent until his retirement in 2001.
In addition to his lengthy education background, C.J. was an accomplished commercial pilot for D.A. Davidson, Pacific Hide and Fur and Holman Aviation. He was an exceptional pilot who used his educational and piloting skills to assist many students with achieving their personal goals of becoming certified pilots. During this time, C.J. also was a designated pilot examiner for the FAA.
C.J. was preceded in death by his parents, John C. and Fern B. Kinna and daughter, Kari Kinna Taylen.
C.J. is survived by his wife of 53 years, Dorothy; son, John (Juli) Kinna of Billings, Mont., Kelly (Emily) Wiprud, Portland, Ore.; six grandchildren, Colby (Carrie) Kinna, Abby Taylen, Cortney Kinna, Jaxon Taylen, Cassidy Kinna, Olivia Taylen; sisters, Jeanette (Jerry) Olrich, Great Falls, Linda (Dean) Ridgeway, Bozeman, Pamela Kinna, Choteau, Mont.; brother, Robert (Myrtle) Kinna, Manhattan, Mont., and many loved brother- and sister-in-laws as well as nephews and nieces.
The family would like to invite relatives and friends for a time of open casket visitation at Faith Bible Church, in Fairfield, on Thursday, May 1, 2014 from 5 to 7 p.m. Private graveside burial service with family will be held Friday, May 2, 2014 at Sun River Cemetery. A memorial service with family and friends will be held on Friday, May 2, 2014, 1 p.m. at Fairfield High School Gymnasium.
Should friends desire, memorials may be made to Fairfield High School scholarship fund or Montana School for the Deaf and Blind.
Condolences to the family may be shared at www.croxfordfuneralhome.com.
Croxford Funeral Home and Crematory
1307 Central Avenue
Great Falls, MT 59401
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Apr. 30, 2014