William Henderson Kinsey, 73, crossed the bar on the evening of March 23, 2024, shortly after buying a 45ft cruising sailboat with his wife and partner Kate. William (“Bill”) was born December 21, 1950, the eldest of three sons of John and Ruth Kinsey. Growing up next to the ocean was a formative experience, driving a love of adventure that Bill shared with all his family. Bill is survived by his wife Kathleen Kinsey, daughter Karen Better, stepchildren Brandon, Chelsea, and Cody as well as his four grandchildren Huxley, Charlie, Freya and Bruce. He is predeceased by his eldest daughter, Sara Wells.

Born in Washington DC, Bill’s family moved back to Florida in 1951, living on NE 18th street, at that time the city limits of the City of Fort Lauderdale. He and his two brothers, John and Charlie, were fourth generation Floridians, his father’s family having moved to Florida in the 1840’s. Bill was very active in Scouting, eventually rising to become an Eagle Scout, and was a member of the first “foursome” in the history of Scouting to all achieve Eagle Scout in the same troop at the same time. Throughout his life, he fondly remembered these adventures including trips to Fort Jefferson and hi-jinx filled jamborees.

He attended Bennett Elementary and Sunrise Junior High School, and then followed his father to graduate from Fort Lauderdale High School. A loyal and enthusiastic “Flying L” Bill was naturally on the swim team the entire time. Achieving All-County status as a Junior in the highly competitive and accomplished swimming scene in Broward County, he went on in his Senior year to achieve all County again, as well as High School All-American and to join in leading the Flying L boys team to the 1968 4AA state championship. One of his teammates went on to set several world records and also win a gold medal at the 1968 Olympics. Bill enjoyed the freedom of growing up in Fort Lauderdale in the 1950s & 60s, exploring the surrounds with his brothers and friends, and spending many happy days at the beach. He put his swimming skills to good use, often swimming out to the reefs to go skin diving.

Both Bill’s parents had graduated college and were pleased that Bill earned multiple scholarship offers for his athletics and academics. A letter from Bear Bryant sealed the deal and Bill attended the University of Alabama on a swimming scholarship. Bill competed for the Tide for two years before deciding to focus on academics with the intent to go into the field of medicine. Determined to not burden his family, he transferred to the University of Florida and worked off semesters to pay for his living costs and tuition. While in Gainesville, Bill met fellow student Patricia Veno, a partnership that spanned 20 years and brought forth their two daughters, Sara (William Wells) and Karen (Michael Better).

After graduation, Bill chose to pursue research over clinical medicine and attended the University of Washington with Pat to pursue their PhD’s. In Seattle, Bill grew his hair out, fell in love with the music of the times and the mountains. He was an active member of the 1970’s Seattle mountaineering scene, making ascents of Baker and Rainer, as well as trips to the American and Canadian Rockies. During that time, Bill earned his postdoctoral degree in molecular biology and accepted a post-doctorial research position at John Hopkins School of Medicine. In Baltimore, he worked in the lab of Dr. Lennarz and researched the early cell membrane changes in eggs after fertilization.

After their years at Hopkins, Bill and Pat returned to Florida in 1980 where Bill started as an Associate Professor at the University of Miami Medical School. He taught anatomy courses at the medical school and researched changes in the biochemical processes of enzymes after fertilization.  They made a home in Coral Gables pursuing his love of fishing and scuba diving with friends. Bill and Pat welcomed Sara Catherine in 1982 as the first grandchild for both families. Bill cut his hair, made full professor and welcomed their second daughter Karen Laura in 1983. Bill brought the girls with him on all of their adventures, they grew up on the water first with the 18ft open cockpit diving boat which was perfectly suited for late afternoon naps, and later on the 37ft sailboat, Rejoice. The family competed in local PHRF racing and spent many weeks exploring the Florida Keys and Bahamas. Bill did not forget his love of the mountains and took several road trips from Miami out to Utah and Wyoming to share his love with the girls and acclimate them to a lifetime of road-trip adventures.

Bill moved with his family to Kansas City, KS in 1991, accepting a position at the University of Kansas School of Medicine where he would teach and research for over 30 years. Road trips became the norm, as he often brought the girls back to Florida to visit family and go on sailing adventures. In Kansas, Bill became an active member of the Mill Creek Rifle Club where he would later hold multiple offices. Bill competed in IPSC shooting competitions and Benchrest target shooting. He taught his girls gun-safety and encouraged them to compete. He developed many life-long friends through these organizations.

Bill and Kate (“Kathleen”) met in 1995 and were married in 2002 at Powell Gardens, expanding his family to include three stepchildren Brandon, Chelsea, and Cody Brown. Together, they continued to adventure on and off the water, Bill finding in his expanded family more partners to explore, build and fix things with. Bill and Kate loved each other deeply, demonstrating to all their children a partnership built on love, trust and commitment to each other. As the children grew up, Bill and Kate traveled internationally as Bill spoke at conferences around Europe. They began to spend longer periods in Florida and Maine, visiting family and on the boat, developing friendships with their dock mates and adventuring over to the Bahamas.

Bill and Kate built a wonderful home in Kansas City hosting their adult children, friends, and family for holidays. Bill was thrilled to welcome his grandchildren, enjoying the opportunity to nap with sleeping babies and watch them learn about their environment. His favorite Christmas present was his Santa Suit, which he donned faithfully every year to the delight of the kids.

Bill had an amazing continuous record of funding from the National Institute of Health. His grant called “Modification of Egg Plasma Membrane” was first funded by NIH in 1985 utilizing sea urchins at the University of Miami.  He moved his research to KUMC, and soon discovered that having sea urchins shipped to Kansas was not a practical approach, and quickly adapted his research to focus on Zebrafish and mice.  As recently as 2023 he was awarded a new major NIH grant focused on unique observations his laboratory made regarding interactions between the oocyte and sperm.  He was excited about this work and its potential impact, and thoroughly enjoyed coming into the lab to work on this project with his team.  Bill’s area of interest always focused on the mechanical actions at the surface of an egg that permit a sperm to enter the egg – studying how, with thousands of contenders, just one sperm could enter an egg.  Bill’s research is known worldwide as is his spirited love of science and good times with friends and mentees. His colleagues both at KUMC and across the globe have expressed that he will be greatly missed.

Bill’s greatest joy was his family. As an associate professor with young children, he would set his schedule such that he could pick the girls up from school and be home for dinner, then return to the lab after the girls were in bed to complete experiments. He firmly believed in the capability of anyone to accomplish anything – and instilled this in his children and stepchildren by teaching them all the skills his dad taught him, from working on cars, to building boats and repairing the house. It wasn’t all work through, he also taught them to swim, to sail, to scuba dive and climb mountains. Most importantly he taught them to love their family and demonstrated this with the extraordinary lengths he and Kate would go to in order to visit everyone. Whether driving to Maine, to Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee or Illinois – sometimes multiple stops in one trip – they covered a lot of ground together. He loved his grandchildren fiercely and was excited to continue the adventures with them – including camping trips in Colorado and ‘experiences’ with simple science projects at home.

At the time of his passing, Bill and Kate were finally taking the next step and had spent the day touring a new sailboat and dreaming of adventures to come. They had celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary in 2022, and continued to be deeply committed to each other. Bill and Kate might have had an occasional bad moment, but never a bad day together, and his last was one of the best. We wish Bill fair winds and following seas in his next adventure.

Visitation will be held 10:00am Friday, April 5th at Langsford Funeral Home in Lee’s Summit, with services following at 11:00am. Celebration of life will begin at 12:30pm at the Stanley in Lee’s Summit.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Esophageal Cancer Action Network. While Bill passed painlessly via a heart attack, his eldest daughter battled esophageal cancer and Bill was passionate about research and the application of immunotherapies in that field.

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