They were childhood sweethearts, born and raised in Winchester, MA, attending the same elementary and junior high schools. Their roads diverged in high school when John McKinley attended an agricultural vocational school in Danvers, then did a three-year stint in the Army while Ginny Larson trained as an R.N. at Massachusetts Memorial Hospital in Boston preparing for a career that would span the next 48 years. She also took writing courses at the University of New Hampshire and sold some short stories to help finance her nurse’s training. (She has since completed a novel with an unusual plot, as yet not submitted for publication.)
After their marriage, John earned his degree in education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, planning to become a teacher, but because of low demand then for teachers, he began managing a “gentleman’s farm” owned by a Harvard vice-president. The farm specialized in raising prime breeding dairy cows. During these years, two sons were born. Both, as adults, enjoy fulfilling careers. One is a chef; one breeds hunting/bird dogs. Beloved daughters-in-law and three grandsons have enhanced the McKinley family.
In a move back to Winchester, John began another phase of a varied vocational experience. He worked as a Police Safety Officer for the next 20 years, meshing his schedule with Ginny’s to prioritize the care of their children. After his first “retirement,” the family moved to New Hampshire, built a house, and John opened a business, cutting down trees and working as a contractual carpenter. “He can do anything,” Ginny remarked, “except fix cars.” He didn’t want to be a plumber like his dad, but he can do that, too, and helped to restore the UCC sprinkling system several years ago.
The McKinley’s next relocated to Florida. Ginny was reluctant to leave a job and patients that she loved but understood her husband’s rationale: “I have lived and worked in snow all my life. I just want to be warm.” John got a job with Marriot Residence Inn in Clearwater-St. Pete with the maintenance team. Persuaded by his employer that he would be more “useful” in an office position, he was eventually promoted to Assistant General Manager and then transferred to Arizona to troubleshoot properties. He didn’t much care for the hiring and firing functions, and he and Ginny went from Tucson to Georgia to Boca Raton with Marriott all in one year. After 10 years with Marriott, John began running a recreational vehicle resort in Georgia, and, one day on a return trip from Florida, he posed a rhetorical, perhaps overdue question: “Why are we up there where pipes freeze?”
It’s been 18 years since the McKinleys became Florida residents at the Yankee Traveler RV Park in Largo, where John works in maintenance year round, and “I’m not moving again until God calls,” Ginny says. They’ve been coming to UCC almost that long. Raised Methodist, she attended other places of worship with childhood friends, but none ever “touched” her, she says, like “the atmosphere of this house built on love where people genuinely seem to care. Every Sunday, Leddy gives me something I need to hear.”