On the morning of April 30, 2018, surrounded by loved ones in her home in Platte City, Michelle Marie Kinnick, 50, completed her earthly journey. Michelle’s story began in Concordia, KS, where she was born to Mike and Leanna Metro on October 12, 1967. She grew up alongside two younger brothers in Salina, KS and at the age of 17 married James Canada in 1985. After graduating from Salina Central High School in 1986, Michelle worked as a McDonald’s cashier, a sales clerk selling boots and a photographer at Sears Portrait Studio before deciding to pursue a nursing degree.
While raising three young children, Michelle enrolled in college courses at Kansas Wesleyan University. Her two oldest children often walked from their elementary school across the street and joined Michelle in her nursing classes after their school day ended. It was an unconventional, but practical arrangement as Michelle was fiercely devoted to her studies, as well as her children. After adding a fourth child to the family, Michelle determinedly earned her degree in May 1994. Her marriage ended in March 1995.
As a single mother, Michelle worked nights as a Registered Nurse on the Mother/Baby unit at Salina Regional Medical Center. As Michelle would tell the story, her co-workers there dashed her aspirations of becoming a Labor/Delivery nurse, as they felt she “didn’t have what it takes.”
In 1998, Michelle started a new chapter in her life’s story, leaving Salina and relocating to the Kansas City Metro. She soon began working as a Mother/Baby nurse at Overland Park Regional Medical Center. A few years later she proved she did have what it took and was hired onto the Labor/Delivery unit- her dream job! Over her 20-year career at OPRMC, Michelle helped safely deliver thousands of newborns, provided exemplary care, and became known as the type of nurse all nurses should aspire to be. She provided leadership to the unit by serving as a charge nurse and was the go-to resource when it came to training new hires. She mentored countless nurses over the years, instilling in them her knowledge, skill and high level of accountability.
Michelle’s story climaxed in March 2003, when a girls’ night out to Fox & Hound in Overland Park ended up changing Michelle’s life. A round of Jell-O shots purchased by a handsome stranger opened the door to a night of great conversation with the man who would ultimately become the love of her life, Rob Kinnick. Ironically, this love story nearly ended in the parking lot that night due to a mortal misunderstanding. Fate, however, intervened and their chance encounter led to a scheduled dinner date the following night, which became the beginning of a once-in-a-lifetime romance. Michelle welcomed Rob’s son into her life and together they had a daughter in late 2003. They married in Las Vegas, NV on December 12, 2004. Though they were engaged, they had not planned to marry on their trip to Vegas. A hypothetical question, followed by a 15-minute planning session, ended with a license being issued and an impromptu wedding. Streaming live over the internet so their children at home could be included, Michelle and Rob tied the knot at The Little White Wedding Chapel on Las Vegas Blvd. Their wedding story perfectly encapsulated the spontaneity and joie de vivre with which Michelle lived her life.
Michelle was a loving wife, mother and grandmother whose greatest joy in life was her family. She took great pride in the theatrical and musical talents of her two youngest children and never missed a performance. She enjoyed watching her granddaughter’s cheerleading, baking cookies with her grandkids, and sharing a beer with her adult children. She found pleasure in lake trips with friends, grilling and relaxing on her backyard deck, and watching football, especially when cheering on her beloved Dallas Cowboys. After years of hard work and sacrifice, Michelle was enjoying a chapter of life in which she was spoiled with frequent travel, her favorite destination being Panama City Beach. She and Rob spent many days sitting on the beach, toes in the sand, with a cooler of cold ones between them, planning a lifetime of beach getaways together. Michelle hoped to someday retire to a beach locale and open a tiki hut.
Michelle will be fondly remembered for always having a smile on her face, being the life of the party, and living life to the fullest. She never met a stranger and anyone who met her was instantly enamored. Michelle loved taking selfies and had a propensity for using one particular expletive. Both professionally and personally, she was known to be outgoing, passionate and charismatic, with a magnetic personality and a contagious laugh. She had tremendous faith in others, always saw the best in people and unabashedly believed that her cup was always half full.
Michelle is survived by her adoring husband Rob; her parents Mike and Carol Metro, Salina, KS and Leanna and Dennis Nobert, Maricopa, AZ; brother Curtis Metro, Hillsdale, KS; brother Nick Metro, Salina, KS; daughter and son-in law Krisha and Lynn Vestal, Edgerton, KS; daughter Kelsie Peil and her fiancé Thom Monterville, Woodward, OK; daughter Kali Canada, Woodward, OK; son and daughter-in-law James Canada II and Amber Canada, Kansas City, KS; son Colin Kinnick, of the home; daughter Kennedy Kinnick, of the home; and 14 grandchildren.
The family would like to express their gratitude to Dr. Joaquina Baranda with the University of Kansas Medical Center’s Oncology service, and to the staff of KU Med’s Oncology Unit and Pain Management Center. Also, a special thank you to the staff of OPRMC Labor/Delivery, Michelle’s work family, for all their support, especially to those involved in the organizing of multiple fundraising efforts. The family is beyond grateful for Michelle’s good friends and the compassionate care they provided over the last weeks of her life, particularly Joy Moss, Jill Parrish and Jennifer Hawk. Lastly, thanks are given to everyone included in Team Kinnick, the family and friends that visited, cooked meals and provided words of encouragement over the past nine months. Early on in Michelle’s treatment, her son Colin said to her, “Thank you for doing this for us.” She wrote his words in her journal, along with her sentiment, “Best thing said to me!” and that became her mantra for the duration of her brave fight.
A Remembrance Service is planned for 4 p.m. Saturday, June 2 at the Johnson County Funeral Chapel and Memorial Gardens, 11200 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, KS. A bench on the Gardens’ grounds will be memorialized and ashes interred at a later date. A Kinnick-style reception will immediately follow the service at Fox & Hound, 10428 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, KS. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, www.pancan.org.
An annually-awarded recognition for excellence in nurse preceptorship is being established at Overland Park Regional Medical Center in Michelle’s honor. Though still in development, this award is intended to be presented to one Labor/Delivery RN every year, on the anniversary of Michelle’s hire date, who embodies Michelle’s spirit and dedication to mentoring.
The hardest ending to accept is the one when the story wasn’t finished. Michelle’s story most definitely was not finished, but the afterword has yet to be written by those she leaves behind. One of Michelle’s favorite quotes was, “Do one thing every day that makes you happy.” Those who were privileged enough to know her, may honor her memory by doing so.
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network