NACA's Executive Director Ira Rheingold's Tribute to Mike Kinkley

| Filed under: 

They say you can't take it with you, but I think that they're wrong
'Cause all I know is I woke up this morning, and something big was gone
Gone into that dark ether where you're still young and hard and cold
Just like when they built you, brother, they broke the mold
Now your death is upon us and we'll return your ashes to the earth
And I know you'll take comfort in knowing you've been roundly blessed and cursed
But love is a power greater than death, just like the songs and stories told
And when she built you, brother, she broke the mold

Bruce Springsteen (Terry's Song)

Yesterday afternoon, I learned that my great friend, our great friend, Mike Kinkley passed away after a fierce fight with cancer. For those us who had the privilege of knowing Mike, the loss hit us hard. Mike was fearless and fearsome, full of anger, full of compassion, full of warmth and full of life. He was infuriating and ingratiating, kind and compassionate, difficult and devoted, witheringly sharp and devastatingly funny, a demanding opponent, and an enormously big-hearted friend. He was one of a kind, he was one of us.

As I write this note, I see Mike before me, laughing about his own foibles, bragging about his sons, failing to convince me that Gonzaga basketball was better than Georgetown, regaling me with stories about his boat, about his life, about his adventures, about his cases, ranting about the latest debt collection outrage, demanding that I, that NACA do better for consumers, for our community that he cared so deeply about. For those of you who were with us last year at our annual meeting, you know how much he cared. Mike, a week after a brutal surgery, insisted on flying cross country to be with us, his extended family, to bathe in the warmth of our community, to share in our collective passion, to be invigorated by our energy and desire to seek justice for the least among us. After we honored Mike at our meeting, I vividly remember our conversation, and thinking how fortunate I was to know Mike, and how lucky we all are to be part of a community that provides us strength when we are weakened, guidance when we are lost, and faith when we need it most.

For those of you who didn't have the privilege of knowing Mike - here is a more traditional bio:
Michael Kinkley, of Spokane, Washington was a trial and appellate lawyer for more than 31 years. He was a graduate of The Ohio State University and Gonzaga Law School and was admitted to practice in Washington, Idaho and various federal courts. Mike successfully represented consumers in over thirty consumer class action lawsuits (including several million- or multimillion-dollar resolutions), in federal courts and several states, as well as, numerous successful appeals. He was the Washington and Idaho state chair and a member of the Board of the National Association of Consumer Advocates and served as the chairman of Consumer Protection Section of the Washington Association for Justice. In addition to being a contributing author to the National Consumer Law Center’s Fair Debt Collection, Mr. Kinkley authored the ‘‘Idaho Class Action Survey’’ published by the American Bar Association and as an appendix to the multivolume set Newberg on Class Actions. Mr. Kinkley frequently presented at MCLE programs regarding consumer litigation at many state and national conferences, including the Fair Debt Collection Practice Conference and the Consumer Rights Litigation Conference.

Thankfully, for all of us, Mike was anything but traditional. And I know that because of his uniqueness, because of his passion, because of his empathy, every time I see a consumer wronged by a debt collector, every time I speak out against an injustice, every time I'm in the presence of our community, Mike Kinkley will be there with me. Because, Mike, when she built you, brother, she broke the mold.