Kenneth Kimball Dies; Longtime Sitkan was 93

Kenneth Neil Kimball

Kenneth Neil Kimball, who lived a life full of adventure, hard work, and family and friends, died Jan. 21 in Sitka at the age of 93.

He was born August 4, 1929, at the family’s home in Cosmopolis, Washington, the son of Frank and Amanda (Jacobson) Kimball. He had a twin sister, Kathleen, and older twin sisters Francie and Carol.

His dad built a house in Hoquiam, Washington, and the family moved there when Kenny was 4. His dad died that same year.

Kenny attended school with his mom and an aunt as teachers, went to high school at Portland Adventist Academy in Oregon, and attended Walla Walla College in Washington for a year.

He worked on the farm while he was growing up, then at age 14, during World War II, he took a job at Lambs Machinery, pouring drive shafts for Liberty ships in the foundry. At age 15 he had a farm permit driver’s license and drove a brand new 1946 Chevy log truck for two summers.

On Feb. 5, 1949, he married Shirley Smith, whom he had met at high school. They would have celebrated their 74th anniversary on Feb. 5.

The couple lived first in Seattle, where Kenny worked at Boeing as a welders helper on the final wing assembly, then returned to Hoquiam, where he drove school bus and did janitor work at the school he had attended as a child, Newton School.

Their first child, Mike, and daughters Karmon and Tammy were  born in Hoquiam.

Kenny next went to work for Barton and Reynvaan Logging, and in November 1959 moved to Sitka, where he ran the 40-foot boat Oriole and helped set up the logging camp at Katlian Bay.

He bought a house in February 1960, and the family joined him here.

His dad had been a boom man, and Kenny chose to do the same, rafting logs. The camp ended in 1965.

When camp was shut down in winters, he worked for Ole Harang as a mechanic, and rode tug boats with George Baggen Sr. Over the years he did rafting for Don Brown, Leo Nelson, and for Alaska Lumber and Pulp in Wrangell. Kenny and Shirley’s fourth child, Frank, was born in 1968.

Kenny took care of the ALP log storage at Rodman Bay, Fish Bay, Wrangell, Petersburg, and Prince Rupert.

He was involved in helicopter logging in Juneau, and helped reroute the power lines in the Gastineau Channel while there.

He spent a summer in Haines rafting logs for ALP, and worked for Silver Bay Logging. While building a log dump in Kelp Bay, he had a logging accident and broke a leg. After that he bought a landing craft, Jaime Lee, and carried water to islands, fish food to the hatcheries, lumber for houses to the islands around Sitka. He carried the sewer trucks off of visiting Navy ships, and horses to Biorka Island.

For many years he transported Boy Scouts and the French Club out to Mud  Bay on Kruzof Island to cut Christmas trees for their fundraisers, and shuttled many four-wheelers there, too.

He helped salvage boats and airplanes, and set anchors and buoys with his boat.

He sold the Jaime Lee in 2008 and retired – but kept busy. He worked on his lawn and gardens, enjoyed feeding crows and eagles, and doing woodworking – building birdhouses, checkerboards, cutting boards, cars and wood spoons.

He had a four-wheeler with a plow, and in winters he cleared the neighbors’ driveways and area sidewalks.

Proud of his Norwegian heritage, he belonged to the Sons of Norway and always made the lutefisk for their yearly party. And he had a lot of Norwegian jokes to share.

He also loved to cook, and was grinding his own wheat and baking homemade bread up until the week before he took ill.

Until he turned 90, he and wife Shirley walked up Castle Hill mornings, picking up litter.

Kenny was preceded in death by his parents and three sisters, grandson Tom Conatser, and son Frank Kimball.

He is survived by his wife, Shirley Kimball, of Sitka; son Mike Kimball (Kathy) of Fresno, California; daughters Karman Conatser (Ron) of Rice, Washington, and Tamara Eliason  (George), of Sitka; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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At a Glance

(updated 9-12-2023)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 8:57 a.m. Tuesday, September 12.

New cases as of Tuesday: 278

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 301,513

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,485

Case Rate per 100,000 – 38.14

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "Low.'' Case statistics are as of Tuesday.

Case Rate/100,000 – 152.50

Cases in last 7 days – 13

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,575

Deceased (cumulative) – 10

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






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The Sheldon Jackson Museum will have a special showing of replicas of ancient Tlingit hunting weapons. The replicas were made by A. P. Johnson, a Tlingit  culture instructor and metal arts teacher at SJC.


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