Celebration of life planned for beloved former JU president

Dr. Frances Kinne was 102 when she died just days before her 103rd birthday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A beloved former president of Jacksonville University who died during the COVID-19 pandemic will be honored this weekend. Dr. Frances Kinne was 102, and she died just days before her 103rd birthday.

She’s being honored Sunday with a memorial on what would have been her 104th birthday.

In 2016, Kinne still had the skills of a musician. She was 99 at the time! Take a look:

For many, it was confusing when she passed away last year.

“I mean Fran was going to live forever,” said Tim Cost, JU president. “Fran Kinne stood for all the things I believe are what’s best about the university. She stood for persistence and optimism. She stood for respect. Fran Kinne stood for service more than a person I ever met my life.”

When Kinne died in 2020, there were no grand celebrations due to the pandemic.

Now, there’s an exhibit in the university’s fine arts building, and there will be a statue unveiled Sunday during an afternoon filled with people remembering the first female university president in Florida.

“Our hope and our mission in this exhibition is to be a memory and a place of honor for those who knew Fran very well, but also to educate future generations about this remarkable woman and her life,” said Dr. Timothy Snyder, with Jacksonville University. “She embodied the humanities, and due to that, she is our North Star. She’s the north star of this university, and she will continue to be. Her legacy will will ripple through generations.”

JU writes on its website:

“Together we mourn the passing of Jacksonville University Chancellor Emerita Dr. Frances Bartlett Kinne, who passed away on May 10, 2020, at the age of 102. Known for her unquenchable optimism, her joy for life and her selfless service to others, Dr. Kinne was a guiding star for us at the University. Throughout her tenure and until her final days, Dr. Kinne was most proud of her connection with students, hundreds of whom she counseled and inspired year after year. She will be missed.”

The celebration of life Sunday is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. at JU. The bronze statue will be unveiled at 2:30 p.m. during the Kinne Plaza dedication. Then the Kinne Legacy Exhibition, which highlights Kinne’s life, will be open through 4:30 p.m. at the Phillips Fine Arts Building.

About the Author:

Kent Justice co-anchors News4Jax's 5 p.m., 10 and 11 p.m. newscasts weeknights and reports on government and politics. He also hosts "This Week in Jacksonville," Channel 4's hot topics and politics public affairs show each Sunday morning at 9 a.m.