Kenneth Kinna was a careful man.
Born in 1897, he lived through the Depression and the collapse of the banks, two world wars and plenty of economic uncertainly. As the son of farmers and a farmer himself, he knew the value of saving.
Three days before his death on July 6, 1973, Kinna made his final addition to his special savings account, $100, bringing the total to $1,160. Then he returned the money and the receipt book to its hiding place at the back of a kitchen cupboard in his little house on Rockport Road.
More than 46 years later, the house’s current owner, Carey Burkhard, was looking for hand towels and found Kinna’s stash instead.
Don’t bother calling Burkhard to ask him for a loan or to buy a round of drinks. The money’s gone.
On Friday, Burkhard donated it to the Good Samaritan Fund. The charity, which provides food baskets to those in need, is sponsored by The Gazette, where Burkhard’s mother worked for many years.
Here’s how this happened:
About a month ago, Burkhard started thinking about weatherizing his house.
He usually hangs plastic sheeting over the windows. Once the plastic is on, he uses a hair dryer to remove the wrinkles and improve the view.
“I was thinking about the kitchen window over the sink,” Burkhard said. “I thought, ‘Oh, to hell with it. I’m getting older, and I’ll probably break my leg getting up on that sink. I’ll pay a little extra in heating this winter.’”
He thought he’d put some hand towels between the two panes of glass to reduce drafts.
The hand towels were in one of those awkward kitchen cupboards. You know the kind. They’re either too narrow to store anything, or wide enough but too deep, or they sort of go around a corner in a weird way.
“I’ve been keeping stuff in there I never used,” Burkhard said.
“You know, I had a Crock-Pot back there, and a George Foreman grill, and a toaster that I used maybe once a year.”
He knew he had a few hand towels in there. When he went hunting for them, he saw what looked like a little shadow in the back of the cupboard.
“I wasn’t going to put my hand back there. It might have been a mouse trap or a mouse,” Burkhard said
His flashlight revealed the object: a wallet.
“I thought, ‘That might be cool if it had a couple of dollars in it,’” Burkhard said. “You know, like a woman who finds an old purse in a closet and finds some money in it. There were 58 $20 bills in there. There was an address card in there, and it had an address on it, and I thought, ‘Wow, that’s my address.’”
Before you chastise Burkhard for not cleaning his cupboards, remember that he is the house’s fourth owner.
“My neighbor Bob, he’s lived next door for a long time, and he remembered all the people,” Burkhard said.
After Kinna died, his wife, Hazel, lived in the house until her death in 1977.
The house then was sold to a couple named the Wests. Then someone named Ruth bought it, but she moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, during a General Motors shakeup in the mid-1980s. That’s when Burkhard bought it.
Burkhard knew from the beginning that he was going to donate the money.
“I’ve got money—not tons and tons, but I don’t need extra,’’ he said.
One day when he was logging on to The Gazette’s website, the promotion for the Good Samaritan Fund popped up. It made him think of his mom, Pat Burkhard.
Pat Burkhard performed a variety of jobs at The Gazette, but she was known for being a skilled copy editor who could spot a misplaced comma or a style error from across the newsroom.
“I looked at the Good Samaritan Fund, and it was The Gazette, and it kind of felt like a sign from my ma,” Burkhard said. “Everything came together.”
He hopes his donation will encourage others to give—even if they find the money in their pocketbooks instead of their cupboards.