Active in civic, community life
LACONIA - J. Kinney O'Rourke, 71, of 47 Gale Ave., died at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2010, of complications from lung surgery while surrounded by his family.
Kinney was born July 12, 1938, in Durango, Colo., the son of William Burk and Mary Elizabeth (Kinney) O'Rourke. He was raised and attended schools in Boulder, Colo. He attended Colorado University and received a B.A. Degree in political science in 1960 and a J.D. (law) degree in 1963. While attending CU he was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi social fraternity and later a member of the Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity.
Kinney worked his whole life in a career that spanned more than 50 years. It took him across the country and it made a full circle, where he started and ended as a journalist.
Initially he was a staff member of the Colorado Daily and the editor of the CU school newspaper. During this time he was also a fire lookout for the National Park Service at Rocky Mountain National Park.
He was always keenly interested in politics and affectionately referred to himself as a Kennedy Democrat. Early in his career he was a Democratic precinct committeeman for Boulder County and a member of the Boulder County Regional Park Advisory Committee. While in law school he worked at the Colorado Municipal League, in Boulder, as a research associate, and then became their legislative counsel. This association provided him with an opportunity to be general counsel of the National League of Cities in Washington, D.C., in 1965 at the age of 26.
In 1966 Kinney moved his family to Boston to be executive director of the Massachusetts League of Cities and Towns. John Collins, the then Mayor of Boston, prompted Kinney to make the move by saying, "With a name like that, we can pass you off as a native!" In 1970 Kinney became executive director of the Economic Development and Industrial Commission (EDIC) for the city of Boston. In 1973 he started his own lobbying firm with clients that included Boston Gas, The Greater Boston Real Estate Board, and the Massachusetts Nursing Association.
During this time he lived in Newton, Mass., with his first wife Robbie Mae and their two sons. Through the 1970s they lovingly renovated every inch of their Victorian house.
In 1985 Kinney worked for General Investment and Development (GID) as a project manager where his work brought him to the Lakes Region to develop the Samoset Resort. During that time, he met Jean Tardif, a Gilford native and co-owner of Goody Good Donuts, who became his wife on Jan. 17, 1992. He then worked in commercial real estate and was executive director of the Greater Laconia-Weirs Beach Chamber of Commerce for several years before he and Jean bought the Black Cat Café and renovated the Laconia train station.
During this time Jean and Kinney first renovated their house on Cherry Valley Road and then built a new house. As resident of Gilford, O'Rourke served as a Gilford selectman from 2003 to 2006, was chairman of the town's Budget Committee for four years, and served for several years on the Planning Board.
Kinney was a member and former board member of the Laconia Rotary Club, serving as club president from 2002-2003. Kinney was awarded the Paul Harris Fellow Award in 1999 in acknowledgment of his fundraising efforts on behalf of the Laconia Rotary Club. He was also a member of the Gilford Rotary Club.
For the past two years Kinney was a freelance reporter and photographer for the Laconia Daily Sun, where he covered public policy issues, town meetings and news stories.
When Kinney discovered the Lakes Region, he realized he had found the place he had always wanted to live. He loved everything about New Hampshire, especially Jean.
Finding his favorite place reinvigorated his love for motorcycles. In the more than 20 years that Kinney lived in New Hampshire he easily logged more than 300,000 miles on his motorcycles. Over the years Jean developed her own enthusiasm for riding and logging many miles with Kinney on her own Harley. It is safe to say that Kinney felt the thrill of the throttle from his Harley at his very core and took every opportunity to show his friends his favorite routes.
It is also important to note that Kinney was a lifelong reader and a lover of both the written and spoken word. His quick wit and sharp tongue combined with his genuinely charming nature endeared him to almost everyone he met.
Kinney is survived by his wife, Jean (Goland) O'Rourke, of Laconia; two sons, Sean P. O'Rourke of Abington, Mass., and Timothy B. O'Rourke of Cambridge, Mass.; a stepdaughter, Sebra Alger, of Laconia; daughters-in-law, Karyn O'Rourke, K.D. Mernin and son-in-law Ray Alger; five grandchildren, Sarah O'Rourke, Aidan O'Rourke, Riley O'Rourke, Linsey Alger and Brandon Alger; two brothers, Thomas O'Rourke and Michael O'Rourke, both of Colorado; a sister, Jane Gibson, of Colorado; and many nephews and nieces.
In addition to his parents, Kinney was predeceased by a brother, William O'Rourke Jr.
Memorial calling hours will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010, from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. in the Carriage House of the Wilkinson-Beane-Simoneau-Paquette Funeral Home, 164 Pleasant St., Laconia.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Breathe New Hampshire, Attn: Memorial Gifts, 9 Cedarwood Drive, Unit 12, Bedford NH 03110.
Wilkinson-Beane-Simoneau-Paquette Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 164 Pleasant St., Laconia, is in charge of the arrangements. For more information and to view an online memorial go to www.wilkinsonbeane.com