George Spearin McKinnell of Sanibel and Fort Myers as well as Brookside, N.J. passed away peacefully of cancer on the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010 surrounded by loving family members. He was 86.
Born on July 11, 1924 at Orange Memorial Hospital in New Jersey to Florence and Robert McKinnell, he attended the Mendham Township schools and was active in Boy Scouts. On Oct. 11, 1947, he married June Maw.
George served in the Navy in World War II on the U.S.S. Doyen, an attack transport ship. He was a former fire chief of the Brookside Engine Company and a member there for 61 years. He was a custom builder by trade and worked as a volunteer at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation for over 25 years as a Hammerhead, contributing to the supervision and construction of two bridges, in addition to renovations of the Nature Center and Native Plant Nursery, boardwalks, the Butterfly House and the Marine Lab.
At the Sanibel Historical Village & Museum, he oversaw and participated in the restoration of the Rutland House, Bailey’s Store, Miss Carlotta’s Tea Room, Burnap Cottage, Morning Glories House, the School House and the board walks. George donated his time to the Sanibel-Captiva Lion’s Club and was honored as the Melvin Jones Fellow for dedicated humanitarian services in 1997. He also worked on several Habitat For Humanity projects. George enjoyed shelling along the beaches, playing golf, woodworking, traveling, collecting antique woodworking tools and stamps.
A member of the Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ, Sanibel, and the Brookside Community Church, in Brookside, N.J., George was adored by everyone and will be dearly missed by friends and family.
He is survived by a loving family including his wife of 62 years, June Maw McKinnell; a daughter, Elizabeth, of Durham, Conn.; a son, George, and his wife, Terri, of Brookside; another daughter, Patricia, and her husband, Christopher Eskeland, also of Brookside; two brothers — James McKinnell, of Brandon, Vt. and Robert McKinnell of Brecksville, Ohio; several grandchildren — Katherine Whitehead-Shen and her husband, Jasper Shen, Susan Whitehead, Jeffrey Whitehead, Amy McKinnell-Napoli, Carrie McKinnell, and her husband, Richard Carriero, Sarah McKinnell, John, Andrew, and Caitlyn Eskeland; and two great-grandchildren — Lucas and Lacey Napoli.
A memorial service celebrating George’s life was held on Sept. 11 at the Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ, the Lion’s Club or the charity of one’s choice in memory of George.