Jerry Kinney of West Des Moines


Gerald Marion “Jerry” Kinney was born Dec. 24, 1931, in Jamaica, Iowa, the son of Merle L. and Edna M. Kinney, and passed away Feb. 19, 2020, at Mercy One Hospice in Johnston, Iowa. Visitation will be held at McLaren’s Funeral Home, 801 19th S., West Des Moines, on Thursday, Feb. 27 from 4-7 p.m. A private entombment will take place at Resthaven.

The first 17 years of his life were spent on his parents’ farm near Herndon, Iowa.

Jerry attended and graduated from Jamaica, Iowa, schools, where he participated in music, sports and other activities.

He was a member of the first Iowa All-State Band and received high ratings as a cornet soloist in Iowa High School Music Association and other talent contests.

Jerry organized and managed as baseball team of boys 14 years of age and under and coached the school’s junior high basketball teams during his final two years in high school.

He received Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music Education degrees from Drake University in Des Moines. While there he served as president of the Drake Band and was a member of Phi Mu Alpha, national music; Alpha Tau Omega, social; Pi Kappa Lambda, honorary music; and Omicron Delta Kappa, honorary leadership, fraternities.

While attending college, Jerry maintained a private teaching studio in his home and directed summer band concerts in Yale, Dawson and Jamaica.

After graduation, he began an instrumental music teaching career that lasted for 67 years. It included positions at Wall Lake, Adel, Lake City, Orange City, Red Oak, Ogden, Perry, Pella, Colfax-Mingo, Valley of West Des Moines, Sacred Heart of West Des Moines and in Blair, Nebraska.

Jerry’s bands and orchestras received many Superior ratings at contests and festivals. More than 435 of his students were named to All-State Bands and Orchestras. Bands under representative of the state of Iowa; Cotton Bowl Parades (2) in Dallas, Texas; Memorial 500 Parades (2) in Indianapolis, Indiana; Bicentennial Parades in Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; the Rose Festival and Parade in Portland, Oregon; Dakota Days Festivals (7) in Rapid City, South Dakota; Worlds of Fun (2) in Kansas City, Missouri; Six Flags Over Mid-America in St. Louis, Missouri; Minneapolis Aquatennial in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Iowa Bandmaster Conventions; Tallcorn Music Festival in Cedar Falls; and numerous parades and festivals in Iowa, including VEISHEA parades in Ames; Drake Relays parades in Des Moines; local festivals and parades in Centerville, Estherville, Pella, Mason City, Algona, Iowa City, Boone, Carroll, Sioux City, Creston, Mount Ayr and many other Iowa towns.

Jerry received the National Federation of High Schools Award as the Outstanding Music Educator in Iowa in 2006; served as President, Secretary, and Historian of the Iowa Bandmasters Association; and as President of the South Central Iowa Bandmasters Association.

He was a member of the District Advisory Board of the IHSMA (two terms); and also served for two terms to Governor Robert D. Ray’s Commission of Youth. He was the recipient of IBA’s Karl King Active Award in 1992.

Jerry played in many bands during his lifetime, among them the Des Moines Municipal Band; Perry Municipal Band; Boone Municipal Band; Za-Ga-Zig Shrine Band; Des Moines Consistory Band; and various similar central Iowa groups.

He was a registered official with the Iowa High School Boys Athletic Association for basketball and baseball; and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union for basketball and softball.

Jerry arranged, choreographed and directed the “Patriotism Pageant,” presented at the Girls State Basketball Tournament finals for several years. He originated a precision drill used by marching bands to turn parade corners now known as the “Texas Turn.” He was one of the first directors to utilize a girl’s auxiliary unit as an integral part of the marching band.

He was a member of the American School Band Directors Association, Iowa Bandmasters Association, South Central Iowa Bandmasters Association, Iowa Music Educators Association, Iowa State Education Association,and was a life member of the National Education Association.

Jerry belonged to the Masonic Lodge, Scottish Rite Consistory, Za-Ga-Zig Shrine and attended and directed choirs in several United Methodist Churches.

He was a co-founder of the Iowa Bandmasters Association Retired Director’s group (IBARD) and organized and directed the Sacred Heart Sax ‘n’ Brass Band of West Des Moines for 386 concerts and the Recycled Brass of Mingo.

At Blair Jerry founded an elite solo and ensemble contest called the “Band Olympics,” patterned after the World Olympics for athletes. The event has spread to other schools and states, involving hundreds of high school musicians annually.

He coined the title of the “Marchmasters” for Valley, West Des Moines, Marching Band, and began a consecutive string of IHSMA State Marching Contest Division I ratings that has lasted from 1961 to the present day for that school.

Jerry served as a judge for 54 years of IHSMA large group and solo and ensemble contests, as well as contests in Illinois, Minnesota and Missouri. He judged the Bill Riley Talent Search television show at the Iowa State Fair for 13 years.

Jerry is survived by his wife, Sandra of West Des Moines; former wife, Joyce of Omaha, Nebraska; sister, Janet (Don) Van Cleave of Palatine, Illinois; brother, Gene (Karen) of Perry; sons, Philip (Jennifer) Kinney of Ankeny, Doug (Dajuan) Kinney of Ankeny and David Kinney of Des Moines; stepsons, Michael (Echo) of Clear Lake, Iowa; Freeman of Norman, Oklahoma; grandsons, Taylor, Benton and Colin Kinney; granddaughter, Erin Walker; two great-grandsons, Cody and Caden Walker; numerous cousins, nieces and nephews; and a host of former students, fellow teachers and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents; and his first wife, Beverly.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may include the Iowa Bandmasters Association, the Mingo United Methodist Church, or the Jerry Kinney Endowment Fund at Sacred Heart School.


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