The Rachmaninoff cowboy

We lost a good guy this week. Al Kinnison died here in Pátzcuaro in his rambling Colonial mansion on Calle Navarrete. He was 79.

Al was a crusty fellow, a Libertarian, a keen intellect and, most of all, an Arizona cowboy.

He believed in guns, self-reliance and freedom.

He and his second wife, Jean, moved to Pátzcuaro about seven years ago. Jean died last year of a heart attack. Al had cancer.

A former mining engineer and naval officer who spoke English, Spanish and a little Japanese, Al did not care for government, which was one reason he moved to Mexico.

He was against the Iraq war, but before you label him a liberal, know that he was also against government doing much of anything. Al just did not want to be messed with.

Ultra-polite, Al always stood for a lady. He did it even if you were not a lady. Opened their doors. He accepted no crude talk around them either. No, sir.

He often spoke of his desire to move to Guatemala. Government interference is increasing in Mexico, and it would be less in Guatemala, he believed.

Guatemala was his final dream.

His preferred mode of moving to Guatemala would have been on horseback.

A Winchester would have been bouncing off the horse’s haunches. A Colt .45 would have been bouncing on his own hip.

Al was like that. Don’t be fooled by that prissy French beret in the photo. Al almost always sported a cowboy hat.

But that was just one side. Al was a Rachmaninoff man . . . and romantic, though he would not have admitted it readily.

He and Jean were often seen walking hand-in-hand through the plaza. So Al was a fighter and a lover. He enjoyed listening to Rachmaninoff quietly in his final weeks.

Al Kinnison was a classic example of the Gringo oddballs one sometimes finds in Mexico. Al was a great oddball, a rare one, a wonderful guy, and will be sorely missed.

(Al died in December of 2005, five years after I met him.)

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