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Editorial: Judge Kinard

Posted: May 21, 2015 4:26 p.m.
Updated: May 22, 2015 1:00 a.m.

Ernest Kinard, who died earlier this week, was made for the law. Possessed of a keen intellect and a probing curiosity, Kinard practiced law for 24 years in Camden before being elected a circuit court judge in 1988.  He remained on the bench until his retirement in 2010, and in a “keep working” program for retired judges, he continued until recently. In all his years as a judge, he never missed a day of holding court, establishing a remarkable record of consistency and longevity. Kinard mentored a number of young attorneys who practiced with him or clerked for him over the years, and he was well known throughout the state’s lawyer population for his legal acumen. He won numerous awards associated with his profession, and like many judges, Kinard enjoyed the courtroom -- its pomp, its ceremony, its production of justice.

Kinard and his wife, Kay, whom he leaves behind, raised three children in Camden, and they have been a vital and active couple in community affairs. Lawyering wasn’t, of course, his entire life. The judge enjoyed traveling and took pride in his ability to scour the internet for international vacation bargains. He was also an enthusiastic golfer -- a long-ball hitter -- who liked not only to play regularly at Camden Country Club but participate in tournaments around the country. He was a member of one golf group which had a spring outing to Pinehurst, N.C., for 30 consecutive years; his golf buddies recall a weekend shortly after he had been elected to the bench when they delighted in convincing a crooning restaurant waiter to serenade Kinard with an impromptu version of  “Congratulations, Circuit Judge,” sung to the tune of Happy Birthday. It produced smiles all around in a room packed with diners.

Judge Kinard was diagnosed last fall with lymphoma and underwent an aggressive and debilitating regimen of chemotherapy. Throughout it, he remained upbeat and courageous. His health declined precipitously over the last few weeks until his death Tuesday afternoon, but, through it all, he soldiered on in a determined fashion. He leaves behind a proud legacy of family, community service and legal professionalism. Camden will miss him, indeed.

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