Of all our members at Methow At Home, Emmett Kinkade has probably taken advantage of our social events more than anyone else. He has joined us for hikes, movies (even hosted movies in his home), potlucks, snowshoeing and game night to name just a few. He volunteers for Methow At Home, at Methow Recycles, the Confluence Gallery and until recently, he was tutoring math at the high school. He had volunteered with the Native Plant Society and the Methow Conservancy, and still does occasionally. At 85 Emmett doesn’t let much slow him down.
Emmett was born in Prosser, Washington in 1930. His parents were both teachers. His Mom taught at a one-room schoolhouse before he was born where she rode a horse to work. She was brought up in Bridgeport and had to take a rowboat across the Columbia River to get to school. His parents met in Cheney while attending college in the mid 1920s during the onset of the depression. They moved around a lot during Emmett’s early years following various teaching jobs around the state. While living in Peshastin Emmett's dad became the County Superintendent in Wenatchee so Emmett attended Wenatchee High School for his last two years of school.
One thing that Emmett learned early on was that he wanted to go to college. He worked a myriad of jobs during high school. He was employed in apple orchards, a lumberyard, in wheat fields and knew that jobs of that type were not what he wanted to do. He had difficulty getting into a university because he lacked foreign language credits so he attended a community college to fulfill his language requirements. He took French and it was a “disaster”. But because he and a friend set up a radio lab in the basement of the Wenatchee High School with a “wire recorder” he could record and memorize the passages he was supposed to read. He barely passed but it was his ticket to the University of Washington.
He had to pay for his own college and received a navel ROTC scholarship, which gave him money for housing and books. In the summer he was required to partake in summer training sessions. The trainings took him all over – France, Portugal, Cuba, and Hawaii. After graduating from college with a BA in math he was obliged to go into the service for five years. He was in Korea until the United States, the People’s Republic of China, North Korea and South Korea agreed to an armistice to end the Korean War in 1953. He received orders to flight school in Pensacola, Florida and then Hutchison, Kansas, and finally ended up being sent to Whidbey Island to do anti submarine patrols. His squadron also patrolled the area around Bikini during the H bombs tests on that atoll.
“The last thing I wanted to be was a teacher.” He started out wanting to be an architect but that didn’t work out. Then went into physics but found the math more alluring so he ended up with the math degree. As a junior officer he was responsible for ensuring the men were educated. He noticed many of them lacked basic education in math and English to get into the good schools. So he decided to become a teacher. He retired from the navy, but stayed in the reserves (for 22 years), and decided to go back to school to get his teacher’s certificate Bellingham. What surprised him was that the education department ended up offering him a teaching job. They handed him a text book, a class list and told him that the “class begins in ten minutes.” He was able to gain experience teaching and complete the requirements for a degree in Education.
After receiving his teacher’s certificate, Emmett wanted to continue his education so he took a teaching job in Seattle to begin working on his master’s degree. By then he was married and they had a house built on Vashon Island. This was a very busy time in his life. He and his wife adopted a child. Then his wife got pregnant and they had a baby 9 months later. He worked 90 hours per week doing lesson plans, making up tests, and all the other responsibilities of teaching. Also, he was obligated to devote at least one weekend a month with the reserves and two weeks in the summer and taught summer school. He also was active in professional organizations serving as President of PSCTM, VICE president and editor of WSCTM Newspaper. He taught at Garfield High School during the racial unrest in the 60s, and then ended his 30-year career at Cleveland High School in 1985.
Emmett and a new wife decided to apply for jobs within the International Schools. They went to a recruiting fair in San Antonio, Texas and “felt like a kid in a candy store” There were many job opportunities (e.g. Mexico, Israel, Pakistan, Jakarta, Norway, Scotland, Austria, Japan) for Which they both were well qualified. They accepted one in Vienna, Austria and taught there for three years. This enabled them to travel all over Europe while there.
Emmett’s middle school stepdaughter wasn’t thrilled about the move to Austria having to leave her friends and the familiarity of the Seattle area. As a result, she did poorly in school. But after a visit to the US, and seeing her friends unmotivated and into drugs, she realized she was getting an excellent education. When she returned to Vienna, “She made a 180 degree turn. There was no support system for failures” in Austria. Most of the students spoke several languages. She did just fine in Austria but wanted to go to a different school. So after three years they applied to other International Schools and landed a job in Kobe, Japan. She did well enough in high school to go on to graduate from college. In addition to further travels to SE Asia, Emmett spent several summers teaching teachers at SPU in their Math Endorsement program.
After four years in Japan they retired. (Again!) They ended up in the beautiful Methow Valley in 1993 because they had some good friends living here. Emmett substituted at Liberty Bell High School but still had a longing to work in the International Schools. He applied again and landed jobs in Guatemala, Qatar and then Puerto Rico. The Qatar experience was the “worst experience in my life! It was run like Hogwarts,” Emmett claims. He finally (really) retired in 2005. During this last tour Emmett also visited all Central American countries, S. America countries Peru, Equador, and Argentina plus several islands in the Carribean.
Emmett returned to the Methow Valley and now keeps busy socially and physically with all the various activities that are available through Methow At Home and other organizations in the valley. (Including line dancing once a week!) He misses teaching overseas but it gets harder as you age. He would like to continue to travel. He has visited China, Japan, the Ukraine, Crete, Alaska and to Ireland and Cuba, with Bill Hottell.
Emmett is truly an inspiration for us all!