John Vandergrift Kinsley Jr., retired paramedic

February 16, 2024

John Vandergrift Kinsley Jr., 77, graduated to heaven Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024, at home in Seaford, surrounded by his family after a hard-fought battle with lymphoma.

Son of John and Iola Bardsley Kinsley, he was born in Philadelphia in 1946. He grew up in Newtown Square before moving with his parents to Florida. During the Vietnam War, he served in the U.S. Navy aboard the U.S.S. Vulcan, stationed in Norfolk.

In 1967, he married Carol Jean Thompson in Royal Oak, Md.

John became a professional firefighter in Lantana, Fla., in 1970, and became one of the first nationally registered paramedics. He continued to work as an electrician on off-duty days.

In 1980, the Kinsleys moved to Tilghman Island, Md. John built a home next to his parents, doing almost all the work himself. He opened an electrical contracting business and later was a paramedic at Fort Meade, Md.

In 1990, John became one of the first paramedics in Sussex County, relocated to Seaford, and helped build the county’s Emergency Medical Services. He retired in 2008 as division manager. 

He is remembered as a generous and talented man who was able to find a solution, one step at a time, for any problem except the disease that took his life.

John is predeceased by his parents; and an infant sister, Diane. He is survived by his wife, Carol; a son, John V. Kinsley III and daughter in love Diana Kinsley; a daughter, Elisabeth “Lisa” K. Wile and son in love Andy Wile; five grandchildren, Vaughn Willenberger, Matthew Ritter, Evan and Erik Kinsley, and Abigail Wile; and four great-grandchildren.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 2 p.m., Monday, Feb. 19, at Crossroad Community Church, 20684 State Forest Road, Georgetown, with visitation beginning at 1 p.m.

Interment will be held later at Spring Hill Cemetery, Wagram, N.C.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Firefighter Cancer Support, firefightercancersupport.orgSt. Jude Children's Research Hospital; or Tunnel to Towers Foundation.


Please visit John’s Life Memorial at

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