Remembering the life Professor Emeritus Paul Fred Kinzel, Jr.

In memoriam - Professor Emeritus Paul Fred Kinzel

Professor Emeritus Paul Fred Kinzel, Jr., a resident of Fresno, passed away on August 7, 2021, at age 98. Paul was born on a farm located near Fowler and Nees, something his children could never quite fathom. Having lost the family farm in the Great Depression, Paul, his mother Florence (Moore) Kinzel, father Paul Fred Kinzel and his sister Marjorie (Reyburn), and brother Howard moved to town, settling in Clovis. Paul graduated from Clovis High School in 1940 and attended California State University, Fresno for two years before enlisting in the Army and serving in the South Pacific from 1942-1946. 

After returning from the Army, Paul completed his undergraduate studies at Fresno State, graduating in 1947. Feeling the pull of adventure, he moved to New York City, where he obtained a Master’s degree in Vocal Music at Columbia University in 1949 with help from the original GI Bill. 

In New York, Paul applied for a Fulbright scholarship and was awarded the opportunity to study in Paris, France (1950-1952). It was in France that Paul met his to-be wife, Francoise (Desbordes). Paul started his teaching career at Fresno High School in 1953. But always ready for the next adventure, Paul married Francoise in Chatou, France on July 9, 1955. 

In 1959, Paul and Francoise took the bold step of moving to Seattle, where Paul obtained a Ph.D. in Linguistics (1964). The Valley called again, and Paul and Francoise returned to Fresno where Paul taught French at Fresno State and supervised the development of prospective French teachers for 29 years. Paul twice served as the Resident Director of the California State University International Program in Aix-en-Provence, France (1966-68 and 1984-85). 

Paul retired from Fresno State in 1992, and he and Francoise lived the ‘good life’ in Old Fig Garden and at their home in lovely Lourmarin, France. Over the years, many French family and friends were introduced to the California lifestyle in Fresno, and many Californians got acquainted with French life through stays with the Kinzels in Provence. 

Paul is survived by his wife Francoise, son Marc, grandsons Jerome and Felix, daughter Anne (Lou), nephew Paul Reyburn, and nieces Susan Pennington (Les) and Rebecca Hyer (Geoff). Paul is also survived by his very large French family, the Desbordes clan, and many friends at his second home in Lourmarin. Most importantly, he is survived by the countless students and colleagues for whom he served as a teacher and mentor in the rigors of French and life. 

The Kinzel family also wants to acknowledge the wonderful care provided to Paul by the direct care professionals at Everlight Care.


“My favorite memories are dinners at his house with his wife Françoise.  I remember the good conversations in French as we ate coq au vin. He was the only person to call me ‘Nat.’ He did it from day one and I never corrected him.  I can hear him say it now in my head. It is not a nickname that I am particularly fond of, but he made it sound elegant.  No one else called me that at Fresno State, until President Saúl Jimenez-Sandoval. I never corrected him either! Dr. Kinzel’s legacy, I hope, lives on through me. He was a wonderful professor who inspired me to go to graduate school. I am back here teaching at Fresno State University, continuing the work he and other faculty started.”

Natalie Muñoz, PhD, Associate Professor of French and Chair of the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures

If you would like to include your tribute, please send it to Benjamin Kirk at

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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