James W. Kynes grew up in the small Panhandle town of Marianna, Fla., where he was an all-state football player at Marianna High. He also was declared all-state in both football and basketball at Fork Union Academy in Virginia, where he later transferred.
He won an athletic scholarship to the University of Florida and earned eight letters playing football and basketball. In 1949 Kynes was elected captain of the football team. He helped to form and was a leader of the Golden Era Club, Gator players of the late ’40s and early ’50s who survived a 13-game losing streak.
After graduating Kynes played one year of Canadian professional football before returning to attend law school at UF. During that time, he served as president of the Florida Blue Key leadership fraternity. He received his J.D. in 1955 and served for two years as an officer in the Air Force before starting his law practice in Ocala.
Kynes was an executive assistant to the newly elected Gov. Farris Bryant, and Gov. Bryant later named him attorney general of Florida. In 1965 he joined Jim Walter Corp. and became the chief executive for corporate legal and public affairs. He was later named executive vice president of Hillsborough Holdings Corp. and its principal sub-holding company, Walter Industries Inc.
Kynes married Marjorie Ann Hiatt in July 1950, and they had three children: James H., William L. and John F. He soon became involved in Tampa-area economic, civic and sports affairs and was the first president of the old West Coast Bowl Association, which scheduled major college games for Tampa Stadium.
His son, Jimmy, became president of the Hall of Fame Bowl. All three of his sons played football at Florida. Jimmy Jr. was a team captain and Billy was a successful quarterback but decided to forgo his senior year to accept a Rhodes Scholarship, an achievement of great pride to his dad. John played after making the team as a walk-on.
In recognition of his years of service and accomplishment, Kynes was honored by the Sports Club of Tampa as its “Citizen of the Year” and by the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame as an “Athlete of Post-Playing Achievement and Service to his Community.” He also served as a charter member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneer advisory committee.
Kynes’ achievements on the field at UF culminated in his induction into its athletic Hall of Fame and, in one of his proudest moments, the creation of the Jimmy Kynes Offensive Lineman of the Year Award in 1986. In honor of his support of the university, he received a Distinguished Alumnus Award. He had worked vigorously as president of the Florida National Alumni Association (now known as the UF Alumni Association) and would always remain unflinching in his support of his university and his Gators.
In addition to his devotion to his alma mater, a dedication to his fellow man and philanthropic works was a mainstay of Kyne’s life. He was a longtime supporter of Young Life, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tampa, Metropolitan Ministries, Faith Children’s Home, the Salvation Army and Hyde Park United Church.
James W. Kynes will always be remembered as a man of exceptional integrity, loyalty, compassion and respect for others.