John Vandergrift Kinsley, Jr. graduated to heaven on Feb. 14, at home in Seaford, surrounded by his family after a hard-fought battle with lymphoma. 

Son of John and Iola Bardsley Kinsley, he was born in Philadelphia in 1946. He grew up in Newtown Square before moving with his parents to Florida. During the Vietnam War, he served in the U.S. Navy as electrician’s mate aboard the U.S.S. Vulcan, a repair ship stationed in Norfolk.

In 1967 he married Carol Jean Thompson of Charlotte, N.C., in Royal Oak, Md.

Mr. Kinsley became a professional fire fighter in Lantana, Florida, in 1970 and became one of the first nationally registered paramedics. He continued to work as an electrician on off-duty days.

In 1980, the Kinsleys moved to Tilghman Island, Md. Mr. Kinsley built a home next to his parents’, doing almost all the work himself. He opened an electrical contracting business and later was a paramedic at Fort Meade, Md.

In 1990, Mr. Kinsley became one of the first paramedics hired in Sussex County, relocated to Seaford and played a major role in the development of the county’s Emergency Medical Services. He was promoted through the ranks as a Field Paramedic, Paramedic Supervisor, Operations Manager, and ultimately Technical Services Division Manager. During this time, he also served as a member and leader of the Hazardous Materials Decon Team and served as the department’s primary Designated Infection Control Officer. 

He is remembered as a generous, honorable and talented man who was able to find a solution, one step at a time, for any problem except the disease that took his life. 

Mr. Kinsley was pre-deceased by his parents and an infant sister, Diane. He is survived by his wife, Carol; a son, John V. Kinsley III, and daughter-in-love, Diana Kinsley, of Monrovia, Md; a daughter, Elisabeth “Lisa” K. Wile, and son-in-love, Andy Wile, of Seaford; five grandchildren: Vaughn Willenberger, Matthew Ritter, Evan and Erik Kinsley and Abigail Wile; and four great-grandchildren.

A Celebration of Life was held at Crossroad Community Church, 20684 State Forest Road, Georgetown on Monday, Feb. 19. 

Interment will be held later at Spring Hill Cemetery in Wagram, North Carolina.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Firefighter Cancer Support (, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, or Tunnel to Towers Foundation.