July 1, 2005
CW mourns the passing of generous benefactor
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation lost one of its closest friends and most generous benefactors with the death of William R. (Bill) Kimball on Friday, June 17 in Belvedere, Calif.
A native of Ogden, Utah, Bill Kimball first visited Colonial Williamsburg in 1959. Early on, he revealed interests across a wide range of the Foundation’s activities, including architecture, history, crafts, gardens, collections and preservation. On more than one occasion he noted that, “I get a warm feeling every time I visit.”
His support of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation took many forms. It included restoration of the Dr. Barraud House; endowment support for the Peyton Randolph House project; restoration of the long-running orientation film, “Williamsburg: The Story of a Patriot”; support for Marin County, Calif., teachers to attend the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute, restoration of the Williamsburg Theatre -- renamed The Kimball Theatre -- in Merchants Square; and establishment of the William and Gretchen Kimball Young Patriots Fund to endow the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums, junior interpreters and a variety of educational outreach activities, including the Teacher Institute and Electronic Field Trips. The Kimballs’ gifts to Colonial Williamsburg exceed $22 million.
“Bill Kimball was an extraordinary American and a warm friend of Colonial Williamsburg,” said Colin G. Campbell, president of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. “He had great love for this place and all that it stands for. His generosity reflected his patriotism; his commitment to education, particularly history education; his concern for historic preservation; his respect for the Williamsburg community and his understanding of the role private philanthropy must play in sustaining this institution. His personal warmth, good humor and wisdom are legendary among his many Colonial Williamsburg friends. Bill will be sorely missed.”
In April 2000, Gretchen and Bill Kimball were awarded the Churchill Bell, Colonial Williamsburg’s highest honor, for their long-standing support of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. The couple has served as honorary co-chairs of the Campaign for Colonial Williamsburg with Abby and George O’Neill. Mr. Kimball also served as co-chair and then honorary chair of Colonial Williamsburg’s National Council; currently, his wife Gretchen co-chairs the National Council with Edward Lynch.
Bill Kimball earned an undergraduate degree from Stanford University and a master’s degree in business from Harvard University. In the 1950s, he founded Kimball Manufacturing Corp., which pioneered the use of fiberglass plastics. He served on the boards of several national corporations and chaired the boards of Stanford University and the California Academy of Sciences. He also served on the boards of the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, Dominican University of California, and the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, Calif. He received the National Philanthropy Day Lifetime Achievement Award in San Francisco during 2002.