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As mother, wife she 'selflessly served'

Marjorie Kynes was the wife of a former state attorney general and the mother of three Gator football players.

© St. Petersburg Times
published July 26, 2002


* * *

SUNSET PARK -- Marjorie Kynes was a cheerleader for her high school and college football teams.

For the rest of her life, she was a cheerleader for her family.

Mrs. Kynes, the wife of former state attorney general James W. Kynes and the matriarch of the Kynes family, died July 19 at her home in Sunset Park. She was 72.

"She was a cheerleader throughout her life," said her son Bill Kynes of Annandale, Va. "She encouraged us, she spurred us on, she supported us, she selflessly served us. She was just a wonderful woman in many ways. She was an inspiration to us."

Mrs. Kynes lived to encourage others, whether during her husband's campaign efforts or as her three sons excelled in football at the University of Florida.

Young Marjorie Hiatt was an athlete herself. She took up golf as a teenager and had a hole-in-one within her first year. She even swung from the trapeze at circuses for Florida State University.

She was a member of one of the first coed classes at FSU, where she also wrote cheers and fight songs. She was vice president of the student body when the student president was future Florida Gov. Reuben Askew.

Bill Kynes said his mother managed to date football captains at Florida State and Florida at the same time. Eventually, she chose the Florida captain -- James W. Kynes.

Kynes was a good enough football player to be drafted by both the National Football League and the Canadian Football League, and Marjorie accompanied him when he played north of the border for a year. When football didn't pan out for him, Marjorie taught second grade to help pay his law school tuition.

The two lived in Ocala for a while until Gov. Farris Bryant asked Kynes to work for him in 1961. In 1964, Florida's attorney general was appointed to the state Supreme Court, and Kynes was tapped to take his place.

All the while, Marjorie stood by his side.

"I think she enjoyed being a partner in the support of my father and what he was doing," Bill said. "I don't think she particularly liked campaigning, but I think she handled herself with great dignity and I think did well at it. I think she was very personable and gracious."

In 1965, they moved to Tampa, where James W. Kynes joined Jim Walter Corp. as a vice president. The Kyneses also raised their three sons, John, Bill and James H. Kynes.

All three were standout football players and citizens in their own right. James H. "Jimbo" Kynes was a star offensive lineman at Florida -- the James Kynes Ironman Award is still awarded to UF's top offensive lineman -- and became a prominent Tampa attorney and civic leader.

Like James, Bill Kynes is a member of the UF Hall of Fame. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University and went on to become senior pastor of National Evangelical Free Church in Annandale, Va.

John Kynes was a walk-on member of the Gator football team and now works for U.S. Rep. Jim Davis in Tampa.

Marjorie Kynes always made signs and posters cheering her sons on, congratulating them on whatever special achievement they happened to attain.

"She emphasized and took great pride more in the type of person that we were, rather than what we did or what particular accomplishments we might have had," John said.

Mrs. Kynes was an active member of Hyde Park United Methodist Church and was a devoted volunteer for the Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary, which helps raise funds and organize volunteer efforts.

In 1988, James W. Kynes died of stomach cancer; five years later, James H. Kynes also died of cancer.

Marjorie Kynes was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma late last fall.

"She certainly was a dignified and courageous woman who certainly was able to continue to have strong faith and continue to encourage others, even to the end," John said.

In addition to her two sons, her survivors include a sister, Carolyn H. Parry, of Denver, Colo.; and nine grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to the Salvation Army or the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center Foundation.

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