There are many great loves in this story. The love of glass, of pizza and the local Italian diaspora, and of course the love of Corning—both the company and the community. This is the story of Clark and Ann Marie Kinlin: of where they came from and how they met. But also, of how their passions grew intertwined over the years, especially their passion for glass and its bright future.
So, let’s start at the beginning. Clark Kinlin was a Boston boy born in the quaint suburb of Wrentham, MA. After graduating with his bachelor’s degree in 1981 from Kenyon College in Ohio, Clark was hired by Corning Incorporated. “At the time, the company was running an interesting recruitment program,” he says. “Corning is overwhelmingly technical, but for a brief moment they were trying to find a few liberal arts graduates like me. The reason for this was the leaders of the company felt like they wanted to add a different perspective to the management of the business. So, I was lucky enough to get hired.”
“I was just the new guy in town,” Clark continues, “I didn’t have a lot going on and Aniello’s Pizzeria was the place you went to grab a slice of pizza.” Enter Ann Marie Ruocco.
The daughter of Italian immigrants, Ann Marie grew up at Aniello’s, the family restaurant. The popular local destination had opened in 1972, the summer of Hurricane Agnes, but was soon thriving despite the flood’s devastation. Under the guidance of her uncle and her mother Gina (the matriarch of the Aniello’s legacy, who passed away in 2022) Ann Marie performed every job in the shop. After putting herself through college, Ann Marie returned to Aniello’s where she has been the owner since 1993.
Growing up in Corning, Ann Marie has many fond memories of the Glass Center, as the Museum was then known. “There were bowling lanes and every Sunday my father would take the whole family to go bowling at the Glass Center,” she recalls. “Just like Aniello’s, it was one of the best places in town for families to gather and have fun.”
Ann Marie recognizes the impact Corning Incorporated has had on not just the town but her own life. Her grandfather worked for Corning, then her father, and even her mother for a time during the war. So, it’s no surprise that Ann Marie would meet a Corning man herself, and in the restaurant no less. One day, Clark walked in and asked her if she’d like to play tennis sometime (he’d heard a rumor she liked to play, which turned out to be untrue). “The rest is history,” Clark confirms. “If you’d have told me that I was going to move from Boston to a tiny upstate New York town and I was going to marry the woman who ran the pizza shop, I would have told you that you were out of your mind!”
But that’s exactly what happened, and the story doesn’t end there. Shortly after joining the ranks at Corning, Clark returned to Boston in 1985 to get his MBA at Harvard, then worked in Optical Fiber for 10 years before joining Corning Consumer Products, where he later became senior vice president for Sales and Marketing of World Kitchen Inc.
During those years, Clark and Ann Marie welcomed three sons to their family: Sarge, Miller, and Foster. The boys grew up in Corning until the family moved to China. In 2000, Clark was named president of Corning International Corporation, responsible for directing the company’s global export activities. Success in this role led to his appointment as president for Greater China in 2003, facilitating the exciting move to Shanghai. In 2007, the family returned, this time to Charlotte, NC, where Clark became president of Corning Optical Communications.
It’s perhaps no surprise that through all this the Kinlins fostered a passion for glass. For Clark, that was sparked by his rise through the ranks of Corning, witnessing firsthand the multiple applications of glass. But for Ann Marie, it was something that had permeated so many childhood moments and stuck with her through the years, as each new season brought new members of the glass community through the doors of Aniello’s.
Today, Clark and Ann Marie describe themselves as modest glass collectors. “Our taste runs strongly to the modern, minimalist, and geometric,” they say. “We have pieces by William Gudenrath, Richard Whiteley, Leon Applebaum, and other artists associated with the Museum, along with some Steuben and several modern pieces from Murano.” But perhaps the objects closest to their hearts are the ones they’ve made themselves with their children. “Every year, we took the children to create Christmas ornaments,” Ann Marie says. “Everything we made was very special to us. Our children also took glass courses at the Museum and studied glass.” This family tradition started almost 30 years ago and now that their children are moving into their own homes, they are taking those memories and pieces of history with them.
This deeply rooted connection to The Studio and the experiences forged there is the impetus for the Kinlins’ continued love and support for the Museum. As Ennion Members since 2017, they return several times a year for events and to keep their family glassmaking traditions alive. “When I think of Corning, the Museum, and the community,” Clark says, “it’s reassuring that there are still places that are built on values, built on respect for history and culture, and for continued investment in that culture. They’re built on being the best, as silly as that sounds, and that generates in my mind a pride of association.”
That pride is what makes Clark and Ann Marie Kinlin so optimistic for the future of glass and the expansion of The Studio in the coming years. “We are thrilled to support StudioNEXT,” they say. “The Studio, for us, is the most important element of the CMoG experience. To have a museum where you can see glass is one thing, but to be surrounded by world-class artists working in the medium and to be able to handle glass by yourself is unique. The new, expanded Studio will be an extraordinary addition to an already stunning community asset.”
Clark, recently retired as president of Corning Optical Communications, and Ann Marie, keeping the Aniello’s traditions alive (while still rolling out dough and making fresh pizzas for her customers), remain inspired by the Finger Lakes region, its history, and its people. In parting, they said: “With StudioNEXT, the Museum will have a greater capacity to draw more artists to spend more time making more interesting things. It’ll become a vital part of the whole experience. We can only imagine that that energy will be translated directly to the community. And we are just so proud to be part of this and hope that everyone leans in to support the expansion. This is a project that everyone in town, and glass lovers around the world, can be justifiably proud of.”
*All photos courtesy of Betsy Snyder, Simply Time Photography.