Ever since she was a little girl, Linda Kinkel loved being outdoors and watching birds.
Family members date her interest back to the many
bird-watching trips she took with
her grandfather, John Rieck of Chicago, all the way to Iowa and on adventures more
locally in the Northwest suburbs.
Dr. Kinkel’s love fueled her extensive education, through
her years at Wheeling and
later Hersey high schools, to Northern Illinois University, where she studied biology
and ornithology, and earned her bachelor of science degree, master’s degree and
ultimately a doctorate in avian behavioral ecology in 1988.
Her fascination with birds never waned and as a professional
ecologist, she studied
birds around the world and conducted field research for many institutions, including
the Field Museum in Chicago.
Dr. Kinkel passed away Oct. 16, succumbing to complications
from multiple sclerosis
from which she had suffered since 1993. She was 54.
During her accomplished career, Dr. Kinkel taught at the
college level, and at the Illinois
Math and Science Academy in Aurora. She also worked as an independent contractor,
traveling to the Caribbean and to the jungles of Peru to conduct research.
Closer to home, she was employed by the city of Chicago to
do environmental impact
studies, and later researched the impact of a landfill near the village of Bartlett.
In the village’s long legal battle with Solid Waste Agency
of Northern Cook County (SWANCC),
Dr. Kinkel served as the principal environmental consultant in Bartlett’s effort to block
construction of a giant landfill on 142 acres adjacent to the village.
“She played an important part in our preserving all of that
acreage as an environmental
open space,” says Valerie Salmons, Bartlett village administrator.
As passionate as Dr. Kinkel was about the environment, those
around her say she was
just as devoted to her family and friends.
“She was very special,” says her brother, Eric, of Palatine.
“She supported me in every
aspect of my life, even though my life contrasted her almost exactly.”
While his sister worked as a scientist, Eric Kinkel is a
professional musician, performing
a combination of folk, country and rock music. After his sister’s diagnosis, he organized
three benefit concerts at Schaumburg’s Prairie Center for the arts, to enable Dr. Kinkel
to remain in her home in Maple Park.
“Every single concert was unique and special,” Eric Kinkel
says. “They led to a tremendous
outpouring of support, in the form of donations.”
Besides her brother, Dr. Kinkel is survived by her parents,
Chris and Arlene of Arlington Heights,
her sister Nancy (Brad) Gamss of Kildeer, one niece and two nephews.
A memorial service takes place at 11 a.m. today at Luther
Village, 1220 N. Village Drive in Arlington Heights.