Dale Lyn Kinley, 68, of West Mount Airy, a two-time double kidney transplant survivor and one of the first employees at Weavers Way co-op in Philadelphia, died Thursday, May 7, from cardiovascular disease at her home.
Ms. Kinley was doing yoga in her living room when she died from a heart attack. She had no history of heart problems.
Starting in 1981, Ms. Kinley’s life was centered on her work at the food co-op. She spent 39 years as a cashier, stock clerk, and manager of the fish and meat department. Her plan was to retire next year.
Earlier this year, when concerns arose about how the COVID-19 pandemic might affect her health, she was reluctant to leave her post, said her husband, Len Byron. She took several weeks off work, said Weavers Way general manager Jon Roesser.
“She loved being with the co-op people,” said Byron. “She loved the West Mount Airy community.”
Born in Roxborough, she was the daughter of Betty L. Propert and David Kinley Jr. She grew up in the Shawmont section of the city and graduated in 1970 from the all-girls Stevens School in Chestnut Hill.
Ms. Kinley suffered double kidney failure in 1984. She underwent double kidney transplants, one in 1986, the other in 2009, both at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP).
Although kidney disease remained a theme in her life, it did not define her. “She never talked about it,” said her husband. “It never bothered her. She was unique.”
Her job at Weavers Way was all-consuming. She purchased, unpacked, inventoried, and sold a wide variety of staples from the food co-op on Carpenter Lane in Mount Airy. She took food orders over the phone and managed several sections of the member-owned business.
“Dale earned wide professional respect, forged dozens of strong friendships, and was admired by the co-op’s 10,000-plus household members,” said her brother, David Kinley III. “She was a hard-working, bright star in her neighborhood, and a strong devotee of the cooperative food movement.”
Roesser said that when he joined Weavers Way a decade ago, Ms. Kinley made him feel welcome. “She was such a bright spot and a connection to a time when Weavers Way was a different organization. Not better or worse but smaller, and everybody knew each other. She would tell me tales of the old days that were funny and charming.”
During her initial struggle with kidney failure, a local filmmaker was there to shoot footage. Dale’s Journey, a black-and-white documentary, was aired on public television.
Though dependent on thrice-weekly dialysis treatments from 2007 to 2009, Ms. Kinley visited Maine; California; Assateague Island, Va.; and the Jersey Shore, lugging heavy plastic bags of medical supplies.
She faced the first kidney transplant in 1986 – long before GoFundMe campaigns existed – knowing that the cost would be prohibitive. Co-op staff and members raised $10,000 to help pay for her operation and recovery.
Ms. Kinley suffered a second double kidney failure in 2007, and two years later received a set of transplant kidneys at HUP. She returned to work but remained dependent on anti-rejection medicines with harsh side effects.
“I never heard her complain a day in her life,” said her husband. “She was an incredible woman.”
Ms. Kinley married Byron in October 2006. They met at a swimming pool. After her second transplant, they traveled to Western Europe.
She was an avid reader of news and history and appreciated art, drama, and music. “She read two books a week,” her husband said. “She read the New York Times every day.”
Her husband and brother are her only direct survivors.
Burial will be private. Plans are pending for a public memorial later this summer.