Sunday, 14 July 2024

John Charles Kimbell Jr.

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At 3 a.m. on Feb. 13, 2013, Rev. John Charles Kimbell woke from sleep and began speaking to his deceased wife Kitty. He laughed with joy and giggled like a school boy, concluding the conversation with, “Really, are you sure?” His daughters believe Kitty was telling him that they would be spending Valentine’s Day together because he passed away 11 minutes into Feb. 14 surrounded by his family.

John was born Jan. 2, 1947 in Stafford Springs, Conn., to John and Rita (Knapp) Kimbell.

John was their first of four children, followed by Linda (deceased), Bryan (of Eugene, Ore.) and Dawn Marie (of Springfield, Ore.).

John met Kitty (Katt) in 1959 at church youth group. They married for the first time when he was 12. Officiating was the Judge Roy Bean of Knott’s Berry Farm. Since that was an amusement park and not a church they did the deed for real when both were of age, Aug. 28, 1967 in Orange County, Calif.

John and Kitty had two daughters; Shannon, who is the pastor of United Christian Parish in Lakeport, Calif. (husband Michael Kimbell-Auth, children Gabriel and Zachary), and Kimberle, a social worker in Riverside, Calif. (husband Todd Hill, children David, Cody and McKenna).

John served in Vietnam with the United States Army from 1967 to 1970.  

Though Vietnam sidetracked John’s lifelong desire to become a pastor, in 1974 he became a lay pastor for the Congregational Church in Staffordville, Conn.

In 1999 after working for many years in the California Title Industry he was accepted into the licensed ministry program for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Iowa.

In 2000 the United Methodist Church called him to serve his first church in Battle Mountain, Nev. He completed the five-year licensing process with the United Methodist Church through Claremont School of Theology.

In 2003 John was moved to serve the United Methodist Churches of Soulsbyville and Tuolumne, Calif. While there John became a beloved community leader, serving constantly beyond the walls of the church and denomination. He was perhaps happiest, however, with a food ministry he began that regularly fed up to 60 homeless persons each week.

His wife Kitty died in 2009 and in 2010 John was blessed to fall in love once again with Debra Goy. They were married on Nov. 26, 2010.  

In 2010 John was able to make a long desired pilgrimage to the Holy Land with his daughter Shannon and a number of friends from Lakeport. The highlight of this trip for John was leading a worship service in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed as he approached his own death. His favorite Bible passage was Isaiah 40:31.

A celebration of John’s life was held Feb. 16, 2013, in Tuolumne. His cremains will be mixed with his wife Kitty’s and they will be scattered at sea April 5, 2013.

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