Jeffrey (Jeff) Cleveland Kinney, 81, of Evanston, Illinois, died peacefully on July 20, 2020, in Surprise, Arizona. Born on November 30, 1938, in Evanston, Illinois, to Kathleen (Kiki) Ward Kinney, and Frederick (Fritz) Cleveland Kinney. From an early age, Jeff demonstrated an enterprising entrepreneurial spirit and savvy business acumen. He started a Neighborhood Newsletter – “scandal sheet” – at age 8 turning bits of information jotted down on old candy wrappers to keep his neighbors informed about the current events in North Evanston at the time. At 10 cents a copy his subscriber base grew and not long after the Chicago Daily News published him in the Sunday paper in 1950. Jeff went on to Evanston Township High School where he captained the boy’s swimming team and led them to the Illinois State Championship his senior year in 1956. After high school, Jeff put himself through Lake Forest College where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Speech and Spanish. While matriculating at Lake Forest College, he was an active member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity. After college, Jeff enlisted in the Army for 2 years of honorable service and subsequently spent time in the Illinois National Guard. Jeff spent over 30 years in local/national television and syndication sales launching his career at WBBM-TV in Chicago in 1963.
Jeff was passionate about movies and television; whether viewing or making homemade movies, he was enamored. On the weekends, Jeff would unwind in the yard doing never ending yard work or various house projects, scouring flea markets for the next unique item he could score and bring home to the consternation of his family, or planning a weekend garage sale strategy to ensure he got the early treasures. It was never about the value or significance of the second-hand object he purchased at those treasure hunts as much as it was the tale behind the find. Jeff’s greatest enjoyment and forever grateful gift to his children were the many memories created at their second home on White Lake in Montague, MI. From the many carefree summers spent on the lake with his children, siblings, nephews and nieces nearby, to the amazing array of colors every fall, White Lake always had a special place in his heart. Jeff especially enjoyed the sunsets over Lake Michigan and shared his fondness for the area with family and friends. Always a prankster, Jeff could not resist an opportunity to engineer a practical joke. He was kind, compassionate, and generous with an inimitable twinkle and smile that could light up a room: even in his final days. Jeff was an avid listener who had an extraordinary gift to make you feel as if you were the only one in the room. He genuinely cared about everyone he came across and was eager to learn their story.
Jeff is survived by his longtime companion, Mary Monica Moog of Muskegon, MI. He was predeceased by his three older sisters, whom he adored, Barbara Brand, Denise Titus, and Nanne Wisniewski.
A devoted and loving father, Jeff is survived by his four children: Megan McMahon Kinney of Sunnyvale, CA; Kieran Kinney Geffert (h. Thomas Geffert) of Mill Valley, CA; Ward Cleveland Kinney (w. Chari Braulio Kinney) of Seattle, WA; and Todd Fox Kinney (w. Shannon Wilson Kinney) of Litchfield Park, AZ. He loved and cherished his seven grandchildren; Chase and Jack Geffert, Gabriella, Lauren and Josephine Kinney, Addie and Hayes Kinney. He is also survived by his former wife and mother of his children Margaret Adrian (h. Robin), along with cousins, nephews and nieces (often the favorite uncle), and many friends including his loyal best friend for over 60 years, Tony Todd. A loving and loyal father, uncle and friend, who always brought laughter, Jeff will be missed by many.
Due to COVID-19, a memorial and celebration of Jeff’s life will be planned in Evanston, IL at a later time. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Jeff’s honor to Cure Alzheimer’s Fund through the link below.
Online condolences can be given at www.caminodelsol.com