A Father’s Day Tribute: George Kinne

George KinneGeorge and Betty KinneAnita Hatchell and Donna Callahan

A father to five children and the father to a number of vital services in Anderson County, George Kinne is perhaps one of the most driven and honorable men in recent county history.  He was instrumental in creating the modern county wide fire department, helped bring water lines to county residents, and even helped build the current Lawrenceburg Methodist Church among so many other accomplishments.

George was born and raised in New York State, attending high school there where he would meet his future wife, Betty.  After high school, he enlisted in the US Marines and would serve in Korea before heading back to New York where he would marry Betty and become a firefighter.  Working at IBM, he would be transferred to Lexington, KY, in 1958 when IBM built their new facility.

After twelve years, the family moved to a farm in Stringtown.  George joined the Stringtown Ruritan Club, which ran the Stringtown Fire Department.  The department, which at the time was the only functioning one in the county, had a single, 15 year old fire truck and never enough equipment to fight a fire.  Their efforts would get the name “foundation savers” because, even with their hard work, many times that’s all that could be saved in a house fire.

George was determined to change this.  Multiple times, he traveled back to New York to gather used equipment to bring back home.  From hoses, to nozzles, to even severe weather sirens, he brought back thousands of dollars worth of equipment.  He petitioned the fiscal court and got them to purchase a new truck.  And he got his employer, IBM, to donate as well. Through the years, he was instrumental in pushing for building the fire stations around the county.

But the fire department wasn’t George’s only accomplishment.  According to his daughters, Donna Callahan and Anita Hatchell, the farm they grew up on only had a cistern for water.  Since their father grew up in a city, he was used to having piped water.  The cistern water would only last a few years before George got involved in the South Anderson Water District project to bring water lines out to county residents.  The project had stop their progress before George got involved, but he, along with others, was able to restart it and turn it into what it is today.

George was also a member of the Methodist Church when it was still on Main Street at where the Golden Pathway Fellowship Church is now located.  He was a member of the church’s finance and building committees to help build the new church on Carlton Dr.

Although George helped many through community service projects, he touched many personally.  “He was your typical dad,” Anita said while commenting how he would always give to his children.  Anita recalled one project where her father converted an old school bus to carry equipment and uniforms for the high school marching band that she joined.  “He always, always supported everything we did,” she said.

He was also very supportive of his other daughter, Donna, as she and others started the Anderson Humane Society.  She took the barn on his farm and converted it to the society’s first ever pet shelter.  “He’s the greatest father ever,” Donna said.

George also made many friends of the young children at the Methodist Church.  He brought bags of candy to the Sunday morning services and would give a child a piece of candy if they were acting up during the service to help calm them.  He became affectionately known as the candy man by the church’s youngest members.

Although George is now 83 years old and suffers with Alzheimer’s, he still has the drive to build and help.  While at the nursing home, he gives fire classes and tries to fix things. “He never stopped,” Donna said.

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  1. Thank you for doing this story. My Daddy will always be the biggest hero in my life. I wish I could be half the person he is. Love him so much. Thank you again for this wonderful tribute to a wonderful man.

  2. I love George and Betty. I got married at that Methodist church on Main Street, when my own mother would not support my marriage, Betty took it upon herself and they paid for everything. I can’t express how much they mean to me, and thanks Shane for the tribute. You do your mama and daddy proud.

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