A Mass of Christian Burial for James L. Kinney, 74, an attorney for more than 50 years and a Republican Party activist who died in his Town of Tonawanda home on Sept. 21, 2001, will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, Parker and Parkside avenues.
Kinney for years was one of the GOP's most visible and vocal advocates and played key roles in campaigns for Erie County executive, sheriff, County Legislature, judicial offices and the State Legislature.
Born and raised in Buffalo, Kinney graduated from Canisius College and attended Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. He graduated from the University at Buffalo School of Law at age 21, becoming one of the school's youngest graduates.
He was a Navy veteran of World War II.
In the early 1950s, he took on a number of criminal cases, including four murders, without a fee.
He was a member of the old Erie County Board of Supervisors from 1957 to 1960, representing the 19th Ward in Buffalo, and was appointed confidential law clerk to then-County Judge William J. Regan.
In 1962, Kinney was named by the courts as chief examiner of accounts for incompetent persons, a job once held by his father, attorney J. Lester Kinney. The job called for overseeing millions of dollars in assets.
He practiced law for 45 years in Ellicott Square, first with his father and later with the firm of Kinney, Daly and Lane.
State Supreme Court Justice John P. Lane, a friend and former colleague, said Kinney always found time to represent those who lacked money to pay an attorney.
"Beyond that," Lane said, "he devoted many years to serving the public in elective office and in administrative positions within the judicial system of our state. He was an outstanding example of the tradition of public service by those who practice law."
He served as counsel to the State Senate, a Republican state committeeman and a member of the party's county Executive Committee, and was a founder and chairman of the Erie County GOP Speakers Bureau.
Friends said he made at least 700 speeches on behalf of Republican candidates in that role, and often debated such well-known Democratic leaders as Joseph F. Crangle and the late Peter J. Crotty. He also wrote speeches and radio and television scripts for Republican candidates.
He was a leader in the Buffalo Junior Chamber of Commerce project in the 1960s that helped change state voting law. It allowed those who had lived in the state for at least 90 days to vote in presidential elections.
He served two terms as president of the Erie County Republican Lawyers Club and was a member of numerous civic, charitable, professional and political organizations.