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James A. Kuykendall

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KUYKENDALL, James A. James A. Kuykendall, a creative, fun-loving artist who lived, worked and happily played outside of the box, died Saturday, (March 28, 2009) after a lengthy and courageously practical battle with cancer. His loving family was at his side during his illness. He was 49. Jim married his college sweetheart, Kimberlee, 27 years ago and they shared an eternal love of politics, current events and family. Their lives revolved around their warm home and beautiful daughters, Alexandra and Samantha Jean. Jim, who lived in Wethersfield and worked at The Hartford Courant since 1990, was versatile and universally beloved in the newsroom, where he always worked to knock down boundaries and get folks together. He knew a little bit about everything and was selfless with his time, talent and ideas. A true newsman, Jim loved to debate or discuss any topic and he relished learning the other side of an issue. Jim adored rock 'n' roll – the edgier, the better, and late in life he became adept on the guitar. He had an unexplainable love for the Oakland A's and a painful devotion to the Minnesota Vikings. Jim loved taking his family on trips, particularly to New York, and he cherished being with his family on holidays or attending his daughters' activities. He enjoyed discussing TV shows and movies and he had a passion for London broil, architecture and Fenway Park. The people of Wethersfield, which he proudly called his hometown, held a tender spot in his heart. As one who loved to push the envelope, Jim decided to become a triathlete at 40. He participated in several, and eventually completed a grueling Iron Man Triathlon, a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run. Born in Indianapolis on Aug. 6, 1959, Kuykendall grew up a Hoosier and developed a lifelong passion for Indiana University basketball. His family moved to Florida before his final year of high school. As a senior, instead of trying to make friends in a strange town, he followed his heart and got a job in the Sports department at the Bradenton Herald and began his illustrious newspaper career at 17. Heeding the advice of colleague and mentor Mark Leary, Jim went to the University of South Carolina, where he would meet Kim and work at newspapers in Columbia and Charleston. They moved to Fort Lauderdale when Jim got a job at the Sun-Sentinel. He became an assistant sports editor, grooming writers and eventually running the desk. Jim loved the camaraderie in Fort Lauderdale, where he and his friends would play softball and basketball during the day and call for a "Boys night out" after work. At The Courant, Jim made his mark in the Sports department. His infectious enthusiasm, flair and vigor helped make that an award-winning section. The Graphics department grabbed him and he flourished in that creative environment — his true professional home where he took enormous pride in that group's work and the multiple awards they earned. Jim did it all. He wrote stories for features and editorial, designed pages for every section and more than anything, loved breaking news. Besides his immediate family, Jim is survived by his parents, Richard and Carole Kuykendall of Palmetto, FL, who lovingly maintained a bedside vigil during Jim's final weeks at the Connecticut Hospice in Branford. He also leaves his brother Scott and his wife Darcy and brother Jack and wife Samantha, along with several nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles. Jim was predeceased by his mother Rosie Lynch Kuykendall and brother Chris Kuykendall. A memorial service will be held at the Church of Christ Congregational, 1075 Main Street, Newington on Tuesday, March 31st at 4 p.m. D'Esopo Funeral Chapel of Wethersfield is assisting the family with arrangements. Memorial contributions can be made to Jim's personal piece of heaven, the Wethersfield Dog Park, (wethersfielddogpark.org) c/o Town of Wethersfield / Dog Park, Parks and Recreation, 505 Silas Deane Highway, Wethersfield, CT 06109, where Jim and his precocious black Lab Maddy solved many of the world's problems. For online expressions of sympathy please visit www.desopo.com.

Published in The Hartford Courant on Mar. 29, 2009
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