Kindle’s life celebrated at on-campus service

Seth Freedland

Gregg Kindle’s friends praised his leadership of Northwestern’s Undergraduate Residential Life department, his love for his wife and children and, almost unanimously, his dry, subtle sense of humor during his memorial service Friday.

For example: Years ago on Halloween, Kindle walked into the office in a suit and challenged Associate Director of Graduate Residential Life Kiersten Elliott to guess his costume. He pointed to a stud earring. When Elliott ran out of guesses, Kindle dead-panned, “I’m a professional sports agent.”

Both laughter and sobs rang out inside Alice Millar Chapel as hundreds of Kindle’s friends, colleagues and family celebrated his life.

Possessing the ability to help faculty understand students, Kindle, a 22-year Residential Life worker, died Dec. 7 at 48 of a rare lymphoma.

University Chaplain Timothy Stevens recalled Kindle’s love for serving as marshall for the end-of-the-year baccalaureate. Stevens said Kindle loved Hymn 412 or, as Kindle called it, “the one with the loud, boiling test tubes.”

Moments later Stevens led the hymn.

William Banis, vice president for student affairs, said Kindle handled more student incidents than any other NU employee.

“(Kindle) was the bedrock of student affairs,” Banis said. “This place will not be the same.”

Kindle’s ability to combine his two loves — family and work — was clear during Assistant Director Virginia Koch’s memory of how proud Kindle was pushing a baby stroller into his office. Both Koch and Elliott baby-sat for Kindle.

Cmdr. Darren Davis Sr. of the University Police spoke on his work with his “close friend” Kindle, before telling Kindle’s wife, Joan, “On behalf of UP, whatever you need, you’re family with us.”

Joan was last to speak, admitting she was “more nervous” than when she spoke at the family memorial Dec. 14 because of Kindle’s connection with NU. The Kindles met when Joan was 15 and started dating in high school.

“He didn’t complain when he’d get the late-night phone calls (from students),” she said. “Sometimes I did, but he never would.”

Through tears, Joan read letters from former students, one of which thanked Kindle for playing a role in discovering her substance abuse.

“He served wherever or however he could,” Joan said. “I’m grateful to have the opportunity to walk with him.”

As the service concluded to an organ postlude, the still-sniffling, murmuring crowd trudged past a collage featuring Kindle’s smiling face.