Michael E. Kinter, 77, of Marshall, passed away peacefully with family members after a short illness.
Mike was born on January 16, 1943, in Sturgis. He was the son of Charles E. and Beverly June (Smith) Kinter. He grew up in Bronson where he attended school starting with the elementary grades. He graduated as Valedictorian from Bronson High School in 1961. He attended Michigan State University where he graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Education and Communication in 1965. While at MSU Mike performed stand up comedy with his high school and lifelong friend Jerry George. The duo made such an impact that they were booked for events by the school.
While at Michigan State Mike became a member of the MSU Spartan Bell Ringers where he met fellow member Penny S. Barnes. They struck up a friendship that grew over the next year. While the Ringers were on a spring break tour of the east coast Mike and Penny rode together in the same car. Their mutual attraction drew them together and blossomed into young love leading Mike and Penny to become married at the East Congregational Church in Grand Rapids on August 14, 1965.
Mike taught Speech and Drama classes and directed the school plays at Andover High School in Bloomfield Hills for 10 years. During the 1975-76 school year, Mike moved his family to Marshall, where they purchased a downtown Marshall storefront at 150 W. Michigan Avenue. He commuted to Bloomfield Hills for the remainder of the school year but then resigned to finish renovating the storefront with Penny. They opened The Mole Hole in 1977. The store quickly became a downtown Marshall destination for residents and tourists alike. They placed a restored pipe organ in the middle of the store which has been played by an organist for every holiday season since. In 1978, the Kinters renovated the back of the store to create their Christmas Shop and later opened Mr. Mole’s Card Shop in the building next door in 1981. During the Home Tour weekend each year, Mike would play his band organ outside the store!
In 1987 a fire devastated the stores just before Christmas season. The Kinters persevered and rebuilt the damaged store, which included replacing the ruined pipe organ.
In 2012 Mike and Penny turned over the ownership of the store to their daughter Kristin Holbrook to “retire”. Mike has still been a daily fixture there until his recent illness. His most recent work was helping with the creation of a new storefront attached to The Mole Hole that Kristin recently opened called Toad Hall.
Mike devoted innumerable hours of his personal time to help downtown Marshall thrive over the years. He was instrumental in creating the Downtown Development Authority with a small group of men. He served on the DDA board for over 20 years. He accepted an appointment to the Marshall City Council when John Miller left his council seat to become Mayor. Mike finished John’s term and was successfully re-elected for two more terms for a total of 10 years of service. Additionally, Mike was a board member of the Marshall Chamber of Commerce and served many years as a board member of the Marshall Community Foundation.
Mike loved the theater. He was a longtime member and served on the board of directors’ for The Marshall Civic Players. He acted in their productions “The Impossible Years”, “Thurber Carnival”, “Deathtrap”, “John Loves Mary”, “Two By Two”, “No, No Nanette!” and “Something’s Afoot”. He also acted in “On Golden Pond” and “Blythe Spirit” at The Great Escape Company in downtown Marshall.
Mike had numerous interests and hobbies. Besides live theater, he enjoyed photography (spending time as a wedding photographer in his early years), enjoyed magic shows and rollercoasters. He was an avid collector of numerous types of music boxes, antique and mechanical toys, books, and personal family heirlooms. He was fascinated with history but specifically enjoyed reading about Circuses, the World’s Fairs, and the people that influenced those events. He was a member of the Musical Box Society International.
He was also a member of the Christian Science Church where he served as a reader and played the organ for many years.
Above all Mike lived for and loved his family beyond all things. He was an amazing father and “Papa”. His support and caring for everyone was surpassed by none. Surviving Mike are his beloved wife Penny, their daughter Kristin (Paul) Holbrook and their son Kenneth (Kirstin) Kinter of Novi and grandchildren Matthew Holbrook, Lydia Holbrook, Violet Holbrook, Maxwell Kinter, and Jackson Kinter, and a brother Douglas (Gaylynn) Kinter of Flushing. He was preceded in death by his parents.
Mike’s family will gather to share memories with family and friends at Kempf Family Funeral and Cremation Services, 723 US HWY 27 N on Monday, February 17 from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
A Celebration of Mike’s Life will be held Tuesday, February 18 at Kempf Family Funeral and Cremation Services at 11:00 am.
A reception will follow at the funeral home’s reception hall.
The family suggests you remember Mike with a memorial to either the Marshall Civic Players or The Kinter Family Fund at the Marshall Community Foundation.
Assistance is available at the funeral home.
To send flowers to Michael's family, please visit our floral section.
Marshall Community Foundation
614 Homer Road, Marshall MI 49068
Marshall Civic Theater
P.O.Box 102, Marshall MI 49068