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A Man of Nearly Unlimited Interests

Kevin Kaminski, Lifestyle Group Editor, was an honor to the profession of journalism.

In 2020, I got this job because of Kevin Kaminski. He didn’t hire me, but had we not found each other on LinkedIn, I would not have become the editor of SFBW.

We had different backgrounds. Kevin was born in Ohio, but made his mark in Florida, first as a history major at the University of Florida (I remember telling someone that within ten seconds of meeting Kevin, you knew he’d aced college), and then, since 2001, as the editor of a series of award-winning South Florida magazines, ending in Lifestyle, our sister publication group. He held the job for nearly eight years.

Kevin was a fixture in Florida publishing, a board member for more than a decade of the Florida Magazine Association, including a three-year term (2011-2014) as president. To us he was the tall, bespectacled, brainy guy—a quick wit in a flannel shirt. An earnest intellect with either a perfect haircut or a baseball cap. No in between.

Though my background was mostly in New York and West Coast publications and his résumé was Florida-based, we were of the same tribe. We shared articles in our respective publications (which is why you may have noticed his byline here), for a while we shared an office, and we told each other stories about our common interests—film, theater, music.

Joan Didion once wrote that a writer is “a person whose most absorbed and passionate hours are spent arranging words on pieces of paper.” That was Kevin. During one of our last conversations, I told him that there was an article making its way around the office that he couldn’t possibly have written because the em dashes were improperly spaced. (It was true; it wasn’t his work.) He laughed and said, “We’re getting into the weeds of em dashes?!” He was teasing me, but also kind of tickled. That’s what I mean when I say that we were of the same tribe.

In what was truly a blessing, just months before he died, Kevin went on a family trip to Europe. One stop was Dublin. He’d visited a library, and he wrote to me that he’d witnessed “the process of restoring 500-year-old books with this small, pen-shaped vacuum that oh-so carefully removes the dust. Fascinating process. But it takes years to complete.” His interests were more varied that most people’s, even than those of most writers. He wrote about sports and gastronomy, the arts and community; and he gave Lifestyle its moral compass, with articles about mental health, pernicious anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, the scourges of homelessness and growing antisemitism.

But I can’t help but love that the last story he told me was about being entranced by those age-old Irish books, and his ability to project himself into the future where there was still a history to safeguard, dust to be wiped away, a job to be done and stories to preserve—and share.

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