Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Gregorian article on Buzz and Colleen Kinnick

The Gregorian is Published Quarterly by the Residents of the St. Gregory Retreat Center, Bayard, Iowa - Winter 2010-2011

From page 1, second column (and continued on page 2):

From the Court to Courtship, Marriage and Beyond:
the Journeys of Buzz and Colleen Kinnick

submitted by John R. & John D.

Fans of basketball are well aware of the drama that can unfold on the hardwoods. Victory, adversity, comebacks and comic mishaps abound. But any true fan will tell you that togetherness, teamwork and friendship are the key ingredients to any championship team. The story of Buzz and Colleen - their marriage, family, work, travels and community involvement - is the story of one such team. Both grew up in the area and have lived here all their lives; they currently reside off of Highway 141 between Bayard and Coon Rapids. Colleen remarked that it was a different time when she was in school; there were no school buses so she had to walk, presumably back and forth through the proverbial two feet of snow during the Iowa winters.  She grew up on a farm and has good memories of driving a tractor, shocking oats and riding horses. At Coon Rapids High School, she was on a state championship basketball team her senior year and made all-state her junior and senior years. Buzz grew up in Coon Rapids, the son of a banker. He had what he described as a "Huck Finn" environment growing up, with plenty of hunting and fishing and a fair amount of time spent helping his sister and her husband with their farm. He was also a basketball player for the men's team at Coon Rapids.

Unsurprisingly, one of their first interactions was on the basketball court during high school. While some courtship ensued, the United States' entry into the Second World War temporarily changed things. Buzz enlisted in the Army and at the close of the War was sent to Japan in the occupation forces. As a non-commissioned officer, he was charged with inspecting POW camps and mine sites as part of an intelligence unit. "Not that I was so smart, just lucky." One of the things he saw in this tour of duty was the training camp where the Japanese taught kamikaze pilots how to dive bomb U.S. targets.

Following the war, Buzz looked Colleen up. As Colleen recalled "He phoned and said 'Can I come see you? I didn't say 'no'." They courted and got married in 1948 - they have been together for 62 years. Their philosophy on how to make their marriage work for so long? Both agree that it starts with doing everything together - working, playing, praying, traveling, and raising kids.

With his war earnings, they purchased a tractor and began farming. Kids followed soon after. They have four children, 13 grandchildren, and five great-granchildren. All of the children have moved back to the area. The grandchildren are spread out all over the country. The success of their offspring stems from some basic principles Buzz and Colleen followed when bringing up their kids. "Be good citizens and stay out of environments that lead to trouble."

As in the case today, farming was very hard work and the times were not always easy. Buzz remembers that in the 1980s it as difficult for farmers to borrow money due to high interest rated, but they somehow persevered. Buzz took on a position with a fertilizer sales business and was involved with building the first fertilizer plant in the late 1960s located in Bayard at the east side of Highway 25. He later worked at a real estate office in a building that how houses the Bayard Hall of Fame. Colleen went back to school and became a nurse and enjoyed practicing for 20 years, in spite of it being emotionally taxing and physically demanding work. Buzz and Colleen saved enough during these challenging years that they were able to retain the family farm.

With children to raise and careers to worry about it would be easy to assume that they had little time for much else. But they actively involved in community organizations, committee work for their church and hospice for many years. Additionally, Buzz has held many appointed county positions and Colleen was active in P.E.O., a women's philanthropic organization.

Both are very fond of living in the Bayard/Coon Rapids area. Colleen summed it up well: "It felt like you knew almost everyone for many years."

In their opinion, St. Gregory fits right in. Colleen remarked "I think it's a wonderful, beautiful addition; I think it qualifies for altruism. Your group here exemplifies it." Buzz agreed, adding "Of all the 'isms', altruism is the best." A winning combination from a winning team. 

[Full disclosure: Buzz Kinnick is my mother's brother, my uncle.]

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