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Robert A. Kinsley, who built a business empire in construction, dies

Ron Musselman
York Dispatch
Robert A. Kinsley, who founded Kinsley Construction Inc., in 1963 and built it into a business empire, died Wednesday at age 79.

Robert A. “Bob” Kinsley, who founded Kinsley Construction Inc. and built it into a business empire, was remembered as “an amazing leader,” a “pillar in the community and in business” and someone whose “presence was always felt.”

Kinsley died Wednesday at the age of 79.

“We have lost an amazing leader,” his son, Robert A. Kinsley II, CEO of Kinsley Enterprises, said in a statement to company employees. “Bob was our founder, a visionary leader and man with unfailing energy. He cannot be replaced.

“There are no words big enough to describe the impact he had on so many of us. All of us will remember just trying to keep up with him when he walked across a job site.”

While day-to-day operations of the company, headquartered in York Township, were managed by Kinsley’s sons, the founder still was actively involved in daily business operations.

Kevin Schreiber, president and CEO of the York County Economic Alliance, as well as a former director of economic development for York City and a state legislator, said Kinsley was someone everyone respected. 

“Mr. Kinsley is synonymous with York,” Schreiber said Thursday. “He was a pillar in the community and in business.”

York County President Commissioner Julie Wheeler said Kinsley "personified entrepreneur and philanthropist."

"He leaves a living legacy as one of our county’s largest employers and his generosity knew no bounds," she said in a statement. "My heart goes out to the Kinsley Family. Thank you for sharing Bob with all of us.”

Jack Kay, chairman of the York County Industrial Development Authority and president/CEO of Susquehanna Real Estate, said he admired Kinsley's work ethic.  

“Bob always enjoyed being in the middle of everything and making sure things were being done according to his standards,” Kay said. “He just set a terrific example for so many people in so many aspects as a very successful business leader and community participant. 

“I certainly admired his attention to detail, enthusiasm and amazing level of energy.” 

Kinsley founded the construction company in 1963, and it now consists of six divisions focusing on specific areas of the industry while primarily serving Pennsylvania and the mid-Atlantic region

Kay said Kinsley left his mark on the area.

“You see Kinsley signs up everywhere in York County. He certainly left his imprint, which will continue,” Kay said. 

Kay said he first met Kinsley in 1976 when he was the community development director for York City and later had dealings with him when he was vice president for corporate development for Susquehanna Pfaltzgraff Co.

“There was never a project where he wasn’t watching, paying attention to detail,” Kay said. “His presence was always felt.”

Schreiber recalled a moment a few years ago when Kinsley addressed a high school apprentice program at the Kinsley Education Center in York City.

“They were starting a trade program for kids from all high schools in the area,” Schreiber said. “Mr. Kinsley comes in and commands the attention of the room right away.

“He told the story of how he became an entrepreneur and how he started his business with his hard hat, tool belt and toolbox. The kids were treated to donated equipment. And he told them, ‘You don’t show up to school without your books, and you don’t show up to work without your tool box.’”

Kinsley served as chairman of the Gettysburg National Battlefield Museum Foundation and was a member of the South George Street Community Partnership Board of Directors.

In 2017, York College created the Kinsley School of Engineering, Science and Technology after a $5.5 million gift commitment from the family.  

A graduate of York Junior College, Kinsley called the donation an additional piece to a lasting partnership between the family and the college to create more industrial jobs in York. 

A celebration of life for Kinsley will be announced at a later date, the company said. To share condolences with the family, email condolences@rkinsley.com.

— Ron Musselman can be reached at rmusselman@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @ronmusselman8.

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