Oliver Perry Kinsey’s life trajectory was remarkably similar to Henry Baker Brown’s. Like Brown, Kinsey was born on a farm in Ohio and taught school before attending National Normal University in Lebanon, Ohio. After graduation, he taught English at National Normal and married Sarah Porter. The Kinseys came to Valparaiso in 1881 when Brown invited Kinsey to help him run the rapidly growing Northern Indiana Normal School and Business Institute. Kinsey possessed both managerial skills and business acumen and was extremely adept at making the school profitable while keeping costs as low as possible.
The Kinseys became prominent Valparaiso citizens. Sarah Porter Kinsey taught geography and grammar at VU and was the matron of the University’s first dormitory for women, East Hall. Oliver Kinsey served on the city and county councils, the library board, helped establish the city waterworks, and was active in the Methodist church.
Kinsey and Brown worked in a close and productive partnership for over 30 years as co-owners of the University. When Brown was debilitated by a stroke in 1912, Kinsey took over as VU president, although he insisted on the title “Acting” president while his friend was alive. Even after Brown’s death in 1917, Kinsey never accepted the title of president. He retired in May 1919.