Festus R-VI Hall of Fame Inductee - Maj. Kevin Lee Kinder
Maj. Kevin Lee Kinder
2018 Festus Hall of Fame Recipient
A natural born leader. A man of honesty and Integrity. A man devoted to service of country and community. Those were just some of the qualities of the late Kevin Kinder, our 2018 inductee into the Festus R-6 School District Hall of Fame. Born November 21, 1956, Kevin Lee Kinder grew up in Festus and attended Festus High School where he excelled academically, was a standout musician, and was an exceptional athlete in football, basketball and track. He earned a #1 rating in the state music competition and was a member of the 1974 District football championship team and the 1975 District basketball championship team. In 1974, he ranked #3 in the nation in track. During his senior year, he earned both the John Philip Sousa Award for outstanding band musician and the Mr. Football Award for his on-field achievements.
After graduating from Festus High School in 1975, Mr. Kinder attended Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State University). There, he entered the Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC) to prepare himself to become an officer in the Army. While attending college, he met the love of his life, Sherri Lynn Troy. He later graduated from Missouri State University earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Health and Physical Education and married Sherri in 1979.
From 1977 to 1996, Mr. Kinder served his country in the United States Army, rising to the rank of Major. During his 20 years of service, Major Kinder was stationed in Cuba, Germany, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri among other locations. For his service, he received the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Commendation Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Defense Meritorious Medal, and the Parachutist Badge. He also earned the first of two Master’s Degrees.
Upon his retirement from the United States Army, Major Kinder began serving his community, first as a teacher in the Ferguson-Florissant School District. Within two short years, he moved into administration as the Dean of Students at Berkeley Middle School and the Student Support Center, then as Principal for the Community School where he oversaw three high schools daily and then on to the Ferguson-Florissant School District as an Assistant Principal.
In 2006, Kevin Kinder came home. He began working as a teacher at Festus Middle School, where he remained until his retirement in 2017. During the decade he spent at Festus, Mr. Kinder served as more than just a teacher, he also served as a role model for young men and women. He showed them his pride in military service by wearing his Dress Blues to school, he volunteered in community service projects alongside students, he told the students about the Festus of his youth, and he created the Festus High School Grappler’s Scholarship for wrestlers. He often donated his time, money, and expertise to help students succeed. In the words of a former co-worker, he “taught the students to dream bigger: To BE the change. He showed our students that education is the key to success. He was the change, and our students and our school district are better because of him.”
Mr. Kinder served his community in other ways. A strong man of faith, he was devoted to his church. He volunteered to play the piano during church services. He also used his gifts to help teach others, volunteering his time to give lessons to those seeking to learn.
Mr. Kinder passed away on May 6, 2018. He was just 61 years old. A father of 3, grandfather to 3 others, and a mentor to thousands of students and civilians, Mr. Kinder’s legacy lives on through each and every one of them. As his nominator stated, Kevin Lee Kinder “had an impact on the lives of countless people. He is of absolute value to our town, our school district, and our nation.” Mr. Kinder often told those he encountered, “BE SOMEBODY! Dream. Make a difference for ALL people. Apply yourself and strive for excellence!”