Kathryn Kimmel Tribute
Delivered at her funeral, by her sister, Barbara Lewis Camp
13 January 2001
Kathryn Jean Lewis Kimmel was born October 28, 1943. She was the second of what would become a family of nine children. When she was a schoolgirl, the family moved from Los Angeles to Mesa, Arizona. There, she climbed grapefruit trees, won spelling bees and sewing contests, and babysat her younger brothers and sisters. Somewhere along the way, she became a great dancer.
The family returned to Southern California in 1963. She went to BYU, studied hard, and made her parents proud when she graduated with honors in English. Her studies included a semester in Grenoble, France, where she reveled in the history and art of Europe, and returned home with intriguing stories and wider eyes. Kathryn has always been a mesmerizing story teller-even the most mundane event became interesting through her eyes.
Following graduation, it was fun to have Kathryn close by while she worked as an annotator with CF Braun Engineering in California. On the weekends, she corrected our English, bleached her hair different shades of blonde, played the guitar and sang Joan Baez and Rod Stewart songs, took us to the beach, taught Sunday School to the teenagers, and danced and danced. She was always dragging me to a Church dance in the LA area. In fact, while she was perfecting the light arrow. Her advice was precise and plentiful, and we’re all a bit wiser because of it.
As far as I know, Kathryn never really looked twice at a man, until she met Tom. Okay…maybe a glance or two. We all know how thoroughly she shops around and how quickly she can separate the weeds from the flowers…and there was absolutely no doubt she’d found a treasure in Tom. They were married in the summer of 1971 in Southern California. It was a beautiful, traditional wedding, with a lovely reception at my parents’ home, complete with a live flocked and lighted Christmas tree. You see, the thought of a Christmas wedding was always her dream, and it made much more sense to cut down a tree in August than to wait until December to marry.
She once told me that one of the reasons she married Tom was because of the way he treated his family. She fell in love with the Kimmels as quickly as she did Tom. We all love them too.
Her life was given new meaning with the birth of her three wonderful children, TK, Cassie, and John. Each child was born 5 years apart, and even though her pregnancies were very difficult, she found her greatest joy in these little ones. She took to the role of motherhood as she did most others-very intensely. She read books, quizzed the veteran mothers, ground wheat, delivered newspapers, attended millions of ball games and track meets, parked herself on the banks of rivers and watched crew races, worried, cried, and prayed a lot. As we look at the fruits of her labors, we have to admit that she did a great job.
Kathryn came to earth with a high IQ, high expectations, and high anxiety.
She left with a truckload of experience and a remarkable calm spirit about what lay ahead for her. It was an enormous blessing for me to be near her during the past couple of weeks and feel that peaceful, comforting spirit. I suspect the transition to a ministering angel will not be much of a stretch for Kack. She’s always been a natural at learning and teaching and comforting others. Willing to share whatever she knew with anyone willing to listen. I suspect the rules are much the same now. She can’t wait to enlighten anyone willing to be still and listen. (See Psalms 46:10)
A couple of weeks ago Kathryn instructed us to sing the “Hallelujah Chorus” at her bedside after she died. As I reluctantly sang I felt Kathryn’s last piece of advice to me as she turned my attention toward heaven was to trust in the Lord…”for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”
I know that God lives, and we are his spirit children. “We are not mortals with spirits, but spirits in mortal bodies.” Eternal life is not a new concept; the prophets have taught of it throughout the ages.
I’m so thankful for a sister named Kathryn. The thought of her makes me smile. The thought of her being surrounded by those who love her on the other side makes me smile even bigger. I will miss her like crazy, but I’ve come up with a plan when I feel the need to call her. I’m going to open my scriptures. This makes perfect sense to me because not only do the scriptures comfort me and unlock spiritual truths, they also contain a lot of really good gardening metaphors that will remind me of Kathryn.
I love you, Kack.
From John Lewis
2 November 2008
Kathryn loved music. She always sang the low alto in the Lewis Ladies’ rendition of “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” Not only did she sing it beautifully, but she delivered with pizzazz the saucey solo lines that were hers in the arrangement. We’ve never quite been able to replace her musical or theatrical quality in that family female group. Oh, and don’t forget her Aretha Franklin rendition of “Respect.” Or Carole King, Tina Turner, or Joan Baez.
Kathryn liked to stay up late. I remember Thanksgiving at her house in McLean, when she hosted a large portion of the Kimmel clan. She cooked up a storm, but when she was doing her traditional cheesecake late, late Thanksgiving eve, she realized she had forgotten the eggs. Had to start over. The next night, after the guests were gone, she relaxed after everyone had gone to bed by reading the paper, then loading the dishwasher. My bed was on the couch downstairs and I heard every piece of silverware going into the dishwasher. I think she was a night owl from birth.
Kathryn loved to dance, and she was a great, natural dancer. The style didn’t really matter much. She was as comfortable as our ward dance director doing traditional Latin rhythms as she was rockin’ and rollin’ with the navy boys in Long Beach. (Tom would be the better judge of that setting.) The love of dancing continued after marriage and my impression was that even if Tom didn’t love it quite as much as Kathryn, he loved that she loved it so much.
Kathryn was in charge. No one questioned who was in charge when Kathryn was around–not even her dad. She was normally very persuasive in her directions and remarkably, she was usually able to convince us all to willingly do things her way. But if necessary, she could command with the best of them, making sure her vision was realized. For example, she was very clear about wanting a Christmas wedding in August. We managed to find a Christmas tree (which mom and I cut down) and flocked it ourselves. Then I spent a good deal of time up in the backyard pine trees, stringing little white lights. My memory, though, isn’t of the effort. My memory is of how thrilled, delighted, and grateful Kathryn was for this special touch.
Kathryn knew everything. She really did. And if she didn’t, she found out. Her English and editing skills were the first to impress me, especially when I got to visit her office at C.F. Braun when I was a teen-ager. I loved to play Password with Tom and her just because they both had such astounding vocabularies. Her gardening knowledge was extensive and adjusted to the climate wherever she lived. She never hesitated to correct our pronunciation of different plants (e.g., clematis and peonies). And politics. She and Tom had such command of the issues and the players. I didn’t always agree with her, but that didn’t take away from how bright and informed she always was. Our family once took a vacation to Dinky Creek, up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, and Kathryn came along. Because she was applying to graduate school (in English), she had to take the GRE up there, proctored by my dad. So, one afternoon, she passed on the fun and took the test in the cafeteria. She must have done well because she was admitted to graduate school. I often felt pretty puffed up that this brilliant lady was my sister.
Kathryn was the ultimate tightwad shopper. She loved to shop, but only if she could find the best bargain imaginable. It was always great family entertainment to observe Kathryn shopping the classified ads for a used car. I can only imagine the hours she spent studying the ads, making the calls, and test-driving the cars. I remember when she wanted to remodel the sink area in one of the McLean-house bathrooms. She and I sat on the floor together for long periods of time trying to figure out how to get the result she wanted in as cheap a way as possible. And then there was the Talbot’s factory-outlet-type store. Ann still wears blazers from Kathryn’s Talbot’s inventory. Our parents couldn’t have been more proud of her frugality.
Kathryn hated to fly. We Utahns grew to love the late night Provo train station pick-ups and early-morning drop-offs. One early morning, she forgot her purse (was it her purse?) and Barbara had to race it down to her. We practically had to throw ourselves in front of the train to make it wait until the purse arrived. Kathryn was at her most persuasive that morning with the train conductor. She always had a great supply of stories to tell from the train trip. It was one of her greatest shows of love for me when she forced herself onto a plane in order to be here for my wedding when she had been too ill to get on the train in time. It wouldn’t have been right to marry without her here.
Kathryn loved life and loved her family. She was always most animated when it came to Tom, TK, Cassie, and Johnny. She planned great cruises and other fun family activities. She had a never-ending supply of family projects and service efforts. She motivated her children to their best potential and short of living their lives for them, made sure they had every opportunity to learn and to succeed. And she was unfailingly devoted to Tom, the love of her life. I loved the way Kathryn lived at full throttle, always focusing her energy on the most important things.
A tribute from Tom’s navy classmates:
After many years of pursuing a career that took him out of Class activities, Tom Kimmel has finally been able to participate in Washington D.C. area functions. Sadly, his return has been accompanied by the death of his wife Kathryn. Tom sent the following email to some Classmates and friends, and with his permission, I am reprinting it. It is a fitting tribute to his life partner.
I lost my wife today for awhile. Kathryn Jean Lewis Kimmel, Annotator. Kathryn Jean Lewis Kimmel, 57, an active member of the McLean, VA First Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died January 11, 2001, at home, peacefully after a long (three-year) battle with breastcancer. Kathryn was born October 28, 1943 in Los Angeles, CA, and raised in Mesa, AZ. She graduated from Brigham Young University in 1967, taught English there while doing graduate work, and was later employed as an annotator for the C. F. Braun Engineering Company in Alhambra, CA until marrying in1971 in Hacienda Heights, CA. Her husband’s Navy and FBI careers took her and her gardens to Long Beach, CA; Chicago, IL; Cleveland, OH; Tyler, TX; Philadelphia, PA, and Washington, D.C. She will be remembered for her unfailing devotion to her husband and children, her lively intellect, her love of gardening, and her abiding faith in Jesus Christ. Kathryn enlivened every circle. Surviving are husband Thomas K. Kimmel, Jr. of McLean, VA; three children, Thomas III of Lakeside, CA, Cassin, and John of McLean, VA; parents John D. and Catherine (Peggy) Conley Lewis of Orem, UT; and seven siblings, Christine Owens of Phoenix, AZ; Roberta Lewis of Orem, UT; John C. Lewis of Orem, UT; Barbara Camp of Alpine, UT; Jeffrey Lewis of Minneapolis, MN; Diana Wakimoto of Sandy, UT; and David Lewis of Phoenix, AZ. Kathryn will be laid to rest in Spanish Fork, Utah, alongside her beloved sister, Bonny Dean Lewis Lassen of Sandy, UT, who deceased in 1999. A special thanks to wonderful family and cherished friends of Kathryn for the love and support which was so generously offered to her and her family during this difficult time. Funeral services will be held Saturday, January 13, 2001, 1:00 p.m., in the LDS Chapel, 1325 Scotts Run Road, McLean, VA. The viewing will be at 11:30 a.m. God bless you all, Tom Kimmel.