Earl Robert Sinnett, 87, died Wednesday due to head injury complications from a fall on Tuesday.
The family provided some of the following information.
He was born to Margaret and Frank Sinnett in San Diego, Calif., on Nov. 14, 1926.
He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He served briefly in the U.S. Navy and in the U.S. Army Reserves. He worked as a psychologist and educator until his mid-eighties. Notable accomplishments include a long successful private practice, founding the mental health center at Kansas State University, assisting in the founding of University for Man and the Fone Crisis Center.
The details of this man’s life belie the strong sense of adventure and forward thinking he expressed in his daily and professional lives. His father and mother were early adventurers to California; however, his father left to travel on a freighter bound for Tahiti when Bob was only 1 year old. His mother, always resourceful, found a way to get the two of them back to her hometown of Muscatine, Iowa, where she raised him through the Great Depression — somehow finding the funds for them to travel to several World’s Fairs by train. Later on, he was an early Ph.D. in the emerging field of psychology. In addition to his clinical work, he published numerous articles including studies of memory and specific clinical applications of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. He screened police candidates for the Riley County Police Department, and there are still those on the force that remember his insightful and compassionate look into their personality.
In addition to his professional activities, Bob found time for avid pursuit of photography, canoeing and writing haiku. In the last several years, he began to create original cards that included his own photos and poetry. In the 1980s, he was instrumental in bringing Zen studies to Manhattan, by scheduling regular visits from Katagari Roshi of the Minnesota Zen Center. He also practiced T’ai Chi starting in the 1980s on. He could often be seen at various outdoor locales with his longtime friend, Leon Rapport, exercising and making the graceful shapes of the forms.
Like his father, Bob also loved the adventure of travel, but he channeled that love into frequent and unusual vacations that included his wife Kay, his two daughters Katie and Lucy, and his two sons Brian and Dan. One memorable trip taken during his sabbatical from the university included a six-week driving vacation to Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. Other favorite trips were four-wheeling in the mountains around Ouray, and Coronado Island in California.
He encouraged his daughters to pursue their own career ideals. His youngest daughter, Lucy Schuler, is a successful psychiatrist at the Veteran’s Hospital in Topeka. His oldest daughter, Kate Sinnett, successfully earned a Ph.D. in theatre and taught for several years.
Yet, Manhattanites probably best know Bob as a jovial, inquisitive and encouraging presence in a variety of popular town settings: Radina’s Coffee, the Keltic Star, the Little Grill, Claflin Books. He had a way of encouraging a wide variety of people in pursuing their artistic endeavors, creative cooking, and many other adventures. He never ceased to be making new friends and learning new things.
Bob’s long and varied life ended suddenly early Wednesday morning. He has gone on to his next adventure. His legacy lies not just with his family or career or even all the people he helped in his practice, but with his great skill in creating and contributing to communities that will continue to flourish long after his passing.
Bob is survived by his wife of more than 50 years, Kay Sinnett; his two daughters Lucy Sinnett Schuler and Kate Sinnett; his two sons Brian and Dan; his son-in-law, Steve; sister-in-law, Lucy Morgan; brother-in-law, Dick Morgan; grandsons Frederick and Evan; granddaughter Kathleen; and friends too numerous to mention.
A memorial service will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Feb. 1 at the K-State Alumni Center. In lieu of flowers, donations are requested to Heifer International and Alzheimer’s Disease Research.
To leave a special message for the family online, visit www.PenwellGabelTopeka.com.