Obituary of Larry Kinley
Larry George Kinley lost his battle with cancer on February 13, 2018 surrounded by his family and many lifelong friends and has moved on to better fishing grounds. He was born in Bellingham, Washington to Francis Garland Kinley (Goog) and Mary Evelyn Kinley (James), and spent a blessed life as a commercial fisherman and dedicated advocate for Indian Country.
Larry graduated from Ferndale High school and went on to receive his Bachelor’s degree from the Chaminade University in 1970. He served in the United States Army with an honorable discharge in 1970. Larry served on the Lummi Indian Business Council for 19 years between the years of 1974 – 2001 and served as the longest running chairman. He was instrumental in not only advancing the largest and most advanced tribal fishing fleet in the world, but also in expanding the Northwest Indian College, the Lummi School District, Fisherman’s Cove, the Silver Reef Casino & Spa, several mini-marts, a processing plant and many important long-term relationships. Larry caused many positive changes during his life time. He is widely known as a true visionary, who exemplified real dedication with no fear of taking risks.
Larry married his soulmate Eleanor Kinley (Solomon) April 4, 1993 in Bullhead City, Arizona. They spent some time living in San Diego, California, then moved back to Whatcom County where they resided for the past few years.
Larry’s lifelong work was dedicated to making life better for his family, friends, Lummi people and many other Tribal Nations. Larry has touched many lives and communities through his work in fighting for Tribal Fishing Rights, Economic Development & the evolution of Self-Governance and Tribal Sovereignty. Larry was instrumental in developing the Centennial Accord which provided a bridge between the tribes and brought Tribal Leaders to the table with the Governor and leadership of the state of Washington
He served as the Senior Tribal Advisor to Chairman Danny Tucker of the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nations of California and played an integral part in the evolution of the $38B dollar Indian Gaming Industry. He and Danny were key players with the gaming Tribes of California in negotiations with the state while uniting the California Tribal Nation. He assisted Chairman Tucker when he served as the Vice Chairman on the National Indian Gaming Association and California Indian Gaming Association.
Larry served on the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development Board which also had a meager beginning and evolved into something that has affected many tribes throughout the nation.
He has always been interested in business, beginning with in a small Bingo operation in Arizona, formed the Lummi Fisherman’s Marketing Association that resulted in difficult but positive impacts on the competitive landscape in the local market. But, probably the most uncelebrated and important local business start-up happened in Larry’s net locker here on the Lummi Rez, where his good friends Pat & Julie Pitsch launched their boat building company; “All American Marine.”
Larry loved sports. He loved basketball, golf, skiing, but his true passion was coaching youth football.
Larry was first and foremost a commercial fisherman. He was one of the best and he loved being on the water which was his real home, he fished Puget Sound for Salmon, crab, herring, and in recent years been trying his hand at reef netting. Larry believed that to save the salmon we need to know who we are and where we came from. We as a people started with reef nets. He believed in getting our children on the water, and reef netting provided a safe platform to teach from. Reef netting brought our family and people full circle in fishing and culture. He fished salmon, herring, and halibut in Southeast Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. He also chased Dungees on the Washington coast and squid in California.
Larry was preceded in death by his parents, Francis Garland Kinley (Goog) and Mary Evelyn Kinley (James); his brothers, Randy, Sr., Googie and Kevin; and his sister Karen.
He is survived by his wife, Eleanor Kinley (Solomon), his daughters April Finkbonner and Shawnee Kinley, his sons Lucas and Kyle. His brothers Steve Kinley & Maureen, Rick Kinley & Kimberly Kurtz, his sisters Patricia Alvarez, Jean Cultee, Sandy Finkbonner, Connie Martin, Cheryl & Karl Sanders and Cindy Kinley. He is also survived by 3 grandchildren, Sebastian Kinley, William Elzey and Faith Elzey, 1 great grandchild, Taidence Lane and numerous nieces and nephews.
Prayer services will be held Friday, February 16, 2018 at 6:00pm and Funeral Services will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 17, 2018 both at the Wexliem Community Building, 2100 Lummi View Drive, Bellingham, Washington.