WILLCOX Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees
DON KIMBLE (118)
2016 COWBOY HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
“The Kimble family migrated to Arizona in 1919 from Oklahoma and Texas. The women of the family claim they landed in the southeast corner of Arizona because it was good ranch country. The men joke the other reason is because it was during prohibition and Aqua Prieta, Mexico, had whiskey available in large quantities, and it was legal,” said Eddie Browning, the evening’s master of ceremonies. “Whether it was good grass or good whiskey, the Kimble family legacy has made the ranching community proud.”
In 1950, Don Kimble was born in a ranch house about 40 miles northeast of Douglas, to Ralph and June Kimble. He has one older brother, Larry, and one sister, Virginia.
Kimble grew up “learning the art of ranching from his grandfather and his dad,” and learning to ride and rope at an early age, Browning said.
He told Browning, “They used to ride all day roping and doctoring cattle with screwworms. I was probably 12 when I started roping range cattle.”
It was about that time Kimble started building his own cow herd, Browning said.
At age 12, Kimble ran his cows on the family ranch, “but by the time he went to college, his cattle herd had grown enough that he leased a ranch of his own,” he said.
Kimble told Browning that he’s been in the cattle business his whole life.
Browning said that Kimble’s story has “several distinct paths – one as a rancher, one as a rodeo cowboy, and another as an educator and coach.”
Kimble went to grade school in a one-room schoolhouse in Apache. He attended Douglas High School, and went to Cochise Community College in Douglas, finishing his formal education at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Browning said.
Kimble graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science and Agricultural Education.
After graduation, Kimble spent a few years working around Tucson, “putting on ropings and doing construction work.” He then became very ill with valley fever, losing a lung as a result, Browning said.
Kimble moved back to Douglas, taking a job teaching agriculture and was the rodeo coach for 11 years at Cochise College.
He told Browning, “I liked working with the kids, fine tuning their skills or teaching them horsemanship. I was busy staying one jump ahead of them to keep them out of trouble.”
Describing Kimble as “an avid team roper,” Browning explained, “Let me also say Don is an elite team roper.”
“During his collegiate years, he was the West Coast Regional Team Roping Champion for four years,” said Browning, adding that Kimble had won “at all levels of competition, including qualifying for the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) twice.”
In 1978, Kimble “narrowly missed” qualifying for the NFR, but in 1979 and again in 1980, Kimble logged 100,000 miles traveling to nearly 60 rodeos around the country, Browning said.
Kimble achieved something that doesn’t happen very often – winning “both go-rounds and the average in team roping at the Denver Rodeo.”
Kimble and roping partner, Kent Winterton, made the front page of the “Rodeo Sports News,” said Browning, adding that their winnings of more than $7,000 at a single rodeo was a standing record for many years.
After two years of hard travel, Kimble “slowed down a little by just entering the close rodeos and a few of the real big ones,” Browning said. “But, even today, he is still roping.”
In 1988, Kimble’s Dad, Ralph, became sick with cancer, so Kimble took over the duties of the family ranch.
“He quit teaching at the college and slowed down even more on the rodeo trail,” Browning said.
The Kimble family had ranched on the “home place” since 1919, but in 2012 after a year of drought, he made the decision to sell the ranch in 2013.
Kimble and wife, Lynn, now ranch on Silver Creek, northeast of Douglas, and in Double Adobe. He told Browning, “I am working harder now than ever before.”
“There is an old saying that you can tell a true cowboy by the type of horse he rides. I had two different individuals tell me that Don Kimble always rode great horses,” he told the audience.
Kimble’s lifestyle has been hard on him, said Browning, explaining that Kimble has had “both knees replaced, a broken neck fixed, a hip replaced, a broken leg, and a cut spinal cord.”
“His back is fused, and he has rods up both sides, and as soon as his rotator cuff is healed, he will be back to roping,” he told the audience.
Browning described Kimble as someone who “likes being his own boss, and has always liked cattle and horses.”
Kimble told Browning, “Ranching is synonymous with gambling. The market, the weather, the financing, everything you do is a gamble. There is no set regiment to guarantee success. You make your own success by your own decisions.”
Kimble said he would like to be remembered as a person who “treated other people just like he would like to be treated, and that his word was always good. He said, ‘If your word and handshake weren’t good, there were no contracts to make up for that anyway.’”
Kimble has given back to his community, serving on the Apache School Board for 27 years, and currently serving as a director for the Malpai Borderlands Group, Browning said.
“He has been an active participant and a strong voice for the ranchers regarding immigration and border issues,” he told the audience.
Browning said that Ben Snure was a longtime family friend and one of Kimble’s mentors.
In 1997, Snure was inducted into the Willcox Cowboy Hall of Fame and on that evening 19 years ago, Kimble sat in the audience to honor his friend, Browning said.
“Well, Don, I am sure that Ben and your Dad, Ralph, are very pleased to know that tonight you are the newest member of the Willcox Cowboy Hall of Fame,” he said.
When it came his turn to speak, Kimble said he is “proud and honored to be inducted.”
Listing past inductees such as Snure, Jim Self, Terry Burgess, Larry Moore, Fred Darnell, Marvin Glenn, and Roy Hoss, and calling them “really good people,” Kimble said, “Knowing all those who were ahead of me that makes the whole thing worthwhile.”
“It’s nice to be here,” he told the audience. “It’s nice to know people support this.”
Kimble thanked his wife and family, and also thanking Cochise College and its President J.D. Rotweiller for being “very supportive of the rodeo program.”
“Thank you for having me here,” Kimble said. “There are some fathers and sons already here. With a little luck, we’ll get Warner (Glenn - Marvin’s son) in. I am really humbled by the whole thing.”