Howard and Annette Kinsey

Howard and Annette Kinsey were married on Christmas Eve in 1939. Since then, they spent 76 Christmases together, but this was their first together in Heaven. They both passed away last fall in their Monroe home — Annette on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, and Howard on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. They were both 94.

Howard was born in New Holland, Georgia, on Nov. 8, 1921. He and his family moved to Walton County in 1931 when his father, Arthur J. Kinsey, became the circuit pastor of several Methodist churches including New Hope Methodist in Between. Howard graduated from Monroe High School in 1938. While in high school, Howard, along with three other young men from Monroe, formed a very popular vocal quartet with Howard playing the guitar. The group performed on radio station WSB and also had a regular Sunday afternoon program on an Athens station. As part of a high school youth apprenticeship program, Howard began working at Aycock’s department store in the men’s department and not only acquired valuable skills in marketing and salesmanship but a reputation as a “snappy” dresser.

Annette was born in Crisp County at Arabi, Georgia, on June 20, 1921. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. N. Guy Parr, moved to Newton County in the late 1920s. Annette attended schools in Ola and Porterdale and she was the valedictorian of the Covington High School Class of 1938. The Rev. Arthur Kinsey was transferred to Newton County while taking classes in theology at Emory at Oxford, which allowed Howard and Annette to meet at a church social. The couple fell in love and were married in Covington on Christmas Eve 1939. They attended the Monroe premiere of “Gone With the Wind” on their wedding night.

The newlyweds lived in Monroe, but at the onset of World War II moved to Savannah to support the war effort, working in a shipyard building “Liberty Ships.” Before war’s end, Howard entered the U.S. Army. He served in the military police and for a while guarded German prisoners of war near Monticello. Later Howard was sent to an army base in Oakland, California. During Howard’s military service, Annette was fortunate to accompany him and find jobs in Monticello and San Francisco. In San Francisco, she bought a Royal typewriter and within a week taught herself to type well enough to land a secretarial job.

During the war, the couple saved enough money to consider starting a business. After the war, Howard took a job in dry cleaning establishment in Covington to “learn the business.” In 1947, Kinsey Cleaners began business at 532 S. Madison Ave. in Monroe. Advertised as “The Tops in Dry Cleaning,” Kinsey Cleaners became very successful with several pickup and delivery trucks serving Monroe and Walton County. The business even operated a branch in Madison briefly.

While operating Kinsey Cleaners, Howard “moonlighted” as a leader of a dance band known as The Southerners. The Southerners played dance gigs almost every Friday and Saturday night from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s, mainly for veterans and civic clubs, but also wedding receptions and private parties. The group was highly in demand all over northeast Georgia, but especially in Athens and surrounding communities. Howard was the drummer and vocalist for the group. During the mid-’50s, the group would record their Saturday night dances, which were aired Sunday afternoons on Monroe station WMRE-AM 1490.

Kinsey Cleaners was sold in 1960, and Howard went to work for Alterman Foods in Atlanta, owners of the chain of Big Apple supermarkets. Howard’s Aycock’s training enabled him to become head of the “non-food” department. Howard supervised this section of Big Apple stores throughout Georgia and western Alabama. He retired from Alterman Foods in 1981.

Annette, after managing the business end of Kinsey Cleaners, used her clerical skills in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, working in the Walton County Tax Commissioner’s Office, Lewis Insurance Agency and in the City Clerk’s Office for the city of Monroe. For many years she also managed the polls during elections.

Howard was a member of the First Methodist Church of Monroe, serving as a choir member and a steward. Annette was a member of the First Baptist Church of Monroe, also singing in the choir and teaching Sunday school.

Howard was a Mason and member of the local Kiwanis Club. Annette was active in the Historical Society and a member of the Pilot Club.

Howard and Annette are survived by their son, Darrell, and his wife, Randell, of Athens; grandson, Darrell Kinsey Jr., and his wife, Anna, of Watkinsville; granddaughter, Dr. Vans Randell Kinsey, of New York; and great-grandsons Benjamin and Reece Kinsey, of Watkinsville.

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