Nelson Kinney, a hairdresser, councillor, advocate and friend to all who confided in him has passed away. He was 77 years old.
“A dear friend and colleague, all of us at the city send our deepest condolences to all his friends and family at this difficult time,” said Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain in an online statement. “RIP Nelson, you will truly be missed and our community has benefited greatly from your presence and service over the years.”
Described by those who knew him as a generous soul with a wonderful spirit, Kinney dedicated his life in his adopted home of Prince Rupert to serving others, whether through his service in council chambers or behind a chair listening to a client in his hair salon.
“He’s just part of the fabric of this community and it’s a huge loss,” said Anna Ashley who served on council with Kinney for six years. “We’ve lost one of our shining lights, our mentors, our guides.”
“It didn’t matter who you were or where you came from, he treated everyone the same,” said Crystal Lorette, Kinney’s niece.
Born in New Westminster, Kinney moved to Prince Rupert in 1957 when he was 17 years old. In his youth, he was a competitive diver, taught gymnastics and was a lifeguard for his community’s outdoor pool. He was also a founding member of the Prince Rupert Figure Skating Club.
Kinney later attended hair dressing school when he was 21 and worked at several salons before opening Nelson’s Coiffures in the 70s where his skills with shears and scissors made him a go-to stylist.
“He could do an up-do like nobody’s business,” Lorette said.
In addition to being the place where people would come to fix their hair, Kinney’s salon was where the community would come to find a willing ear.
This was especially the case when Kinney was elected to served on the city’s council in 2002, as Kinney’s clients knew he would always listen to what people had to say and advocate for them to the best of his ability.
“He would find out what was going on, and would always advocate for them,” Ashley said.
He would retire as a hair-dresser at the age of 75, but he never lost his passion for serving his community.
Herb Pond, who was elected mayor the same year Kinney became a councillor, described Kinney as Prince Rupert’s “pulse”, someone who always knew what was happening in the hearts of people in the city.
“If I wanted a read of what was going on in the community, I would always turn to Nelson,” Pond said.
In council, Kinney was a staunch supporter of seniors, to whom he often referred as “my seniors”, as well as the city’s youth and industry. Pond said Kinney always spoke his mind, but found a way to put everyone at ease while tackling difficult issues.
“He was fun,” Pond said. “We took on a lot of tough and serious issues, but we always found a way to make a way through it.”
In an email to the Northern View, Kinney’s family thanked the community for the outpouring of support, and said that arrangements for Kinney will be announced at a later date.