Derek Kinner, whose name should be familiar to at least some readers of this site for his righteous coverage of the murder of Black Piston Zachariah “Nas T” Tipton in 2014, in Jacksonville’s Folio Magazine, has died.
During 33 years in journalism Kinner worked for the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus; Panama City News-Herald; Pensacola News-Journal; Florida Times-Union; Dallas Times; WJXT; The Associated Press; the Daytona Beach News-Journal; and Bloomberg News.
Six months ago, in his own words, Kinner “went to the hospital with severe chest pain after three months of weakness that caused me not to be able to work and in cases even walk. They took X-rays and a Cat Scan and said my heart was fine and then casually told me I had a big black spot on my right lung and it was cancer and malignant.” Two months ago, his illness was “upgraded from Stage 2 to Stage 4 lung cancer, which has spread to a lesion on my brain. Like I needed any help there to be nuts.”
His dying wish was to take a cruise. In January Kinner, who was not without friends, accepted $1,000 in donations, bought a ticket and tried to board a Royal Caribbean Cruise ship called Enchantment of the Seas. He was turned away because he did not have his birth certificate with him.
“Everybody knows that I am going to die and I have gotten so much support from so many people,” Kinner said after he was turned back at the dock. “That’s really my biggest concern, quite frankly, is them. They pitched in to do this and get it done. And I can’t get it done.”
He went to a hotel instead and stared at the sea. A complete stranger paid his bill.
Near the end, Kinner said “So many people have reached out and let me know how I affected their lives. Maybe I did something right. It’s like Tom Sawyer being at his own funeral. And if you go quickly you never get to hear that.”
He checked into a hospice last Friday and died the next day.
A former editor called Kinner “a determined and tenacious reporter, whose career spanned three decades and touched the lives of many in the Georgia/Florida area. His best reporting appears to have been as part of a team that went among the homeless in Jacksonville and reported on the lives of these souls who were cast aside by polite society. Derek loved to play golf. He was steeped in the Southern Rock culture and personally knew members of Molly Hatchet and other bands. During the past couple of years – in addition to freelancing for the AP and other outlets – Derek was working on a documentary film about Southern Rock and conducted several interviews with the musicians who played an integral role in the genre.”
H. L. Mencken, who bled out most of his words for the Baltimore Sun once, famously, said, “As I look back over a misspent life, I find myself more and more convinced that I had more fun doing news reporting than in any other enterprise. It is really the life of kings.” Kinner also bled out his words and died without regrets.
According to his sister Karyn, Kinner will be cremated and his ashes will be scattered at the beach.
He is now drunk and on deadline and laughing in heaven. Derek Kinner was 57-years-old.
Requiscat In Pace