Kinch, professor emeritus of sociology, dies at 88

Thursday, May 30, 2019 - 11:25

John W. KinchJohn Willard Kinch died May 12 at his home in San Francisco. He was 88.

Kinch was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1931. After serving in the Korean War, he earned a Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 1959. A faculty member in San Francisco State University’s Department of Sociology for 35 years, Kinch served as department chair for 15 years and retired as a professor emeritus in 1994. His scholarship included work on symbolic interactionist theories and methods.

Throughout his career and life, Kinch was a staunch advocate for social justice and equality. In 1965 during Civil Rights Movement, he and a group of his students traveled to Selma, Alabama to organize the Selma Emergency Relief Service to take care of families that had been denied aide as a punishment for participating in voter registration demonstrations. 

Upon his retirement, he set up and seeded a student activism award, which the department named after him: the John Kinch Humanitarian Award.

"John was a warm, wonderful, engaging person. He was very dedicated to our department and was an extremely kind and supportive mentor and colleague to me and others," said Associate Professor of Sociology Karen Hossfeld.

Kinch is survived by his wife Mary Bennion; children Sally, Linda, Carol, Cathy, David and Lucas; 10 grandchildren; and his brother Robert.

Read John Willard Kinch’s obituary on SF Gate