Kendall leaves behind legacy, lifetime of dreams

Peter Gillette

Appleton and Lawrence University lost a friend and leader in the early morning hours of Saturday, Nov. 6, when Kevin Kendall, 23, became a victim of a drunk-driving accident near Antigo, Wis.
Kendall, an Appleton native, worked with Lawrence University as a volunteer in the national Americorps program. Combining his leadership skills with Lawrence’s Volunteer and Community Service Center, Kendall coordinated after-school programs at Horizons and Columbus elementary schools in Appleton.
According to a report in Appleton’s Post-Crescent, a car driven by Kendall’s friend Kristen VanDalen, 24, struck a tree around 1:10 a.m. One of Kendall’s best friends, Joel Hintz, also 24, was extricated from the vehicle, while Hintz’s brother Daniel was uninjured.
Kendall was pronounced dead at the scene.
The group was returning from an area bar. VanDalen’s blood-alcohol content was 0.138.
Writers and editors of the Post-Crescent were particularly shaken by Kendall’s passing, since he served on its editorial board from July, when he returned to the Appleton area on his Americorps/VISTA grant, until September.
“We mourn Kevin’s passing. He was a bright light for our newspaper and our community. He was marvelous in so many ways – his wit, his charm, his insight. We were blessed to be given the opportunity to appreciate his many gifts,” said Andrew Oppmann, Post Crescent executive editor (and an adviser to The Lawrentian).
Kendall’s energy extended to his work at Lawrence University. Shortly before his death, Kendall had met with President Jill Beck, exploring ways that he could work to augment and support the upcoming ArtsBridge program.
He had also mentored area children through a program called “Go Guys.”
“[Kevin was] full of life, vibrant, and caring. He was enthusiastic and energetic about volunteering,” said Ormsby Hall Director Karen Patyk, who also coordinates the VSCS.
A 2003 graduate of University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in political science, Kendall desired to bring his passion for community involvement back home. According to Patyk, he had even met with several Lawrence University professors to explore the promotion of service-learning components in classes.
Kendall frequently corresponded with The Lawrentian, eager to make sure that the newspaper and its readers would never be unaware of the importance of volunteering and the existence of volunteer events.
Kendall was a man with many causes, but Post-Crescent columnist Dan Flannery focused his Nov. 11 piece on Kendall’s promotion of bicycles as functional transportation. In a tribute to Kendall the Wednesday after his death, about 40 of his Fox Cities friends and 30 more from Madison, organized a biking procession from Beaner’s Coffeehouse and down College Avenue, ending up at Wichmann Funeral Home, where a couple hundred mourners, including Patyk and several VCSC student interns, celebrated Kendall’s short but accomplished life.
His dream was to be a Christian peacekeeper in Colombia (he had even completed his application for the position), but many of Kendall’s missions (including promotion of public space and libraries) focused squarely on home. Dick Kendall, Kevin’s father, told Flannery how bothered Kevin was by the redesign of College Avenue -that didn’t include bike racks.
“If they don’t have bike racks [in heaven] now, they will soon,” wrote Flannery, adding that Kendall’s final journal entry included the following Biblical quotation, Revelation 2:10: “… be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life,” concluding his final entry with somewhat chilling prescience:
“My citizenship is in heaven,” Kendall wrote.

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