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Source Spotlight: Ed Kimball

Will sing or fish for pleasure



Ed remembers a good stretch of about seven years during which he skied 200 days a year. "I've always loved the outdoors."

What was it that drew Edward and Barb Kimball to Central Oregon 40 years ago? Was it the skiing, fly-fishing, beautiful scenery, or just the great outdoors in general? Try all of the above. Oh, yes, and the opportunity to sing for people whenever Ed has the chance.

Married for 67 years and now living in Redmond, the couple were high school sweethearts back in Rochester, N.Y. Ed has "retired" three separate times, the last time in 2006 when he was pushing 80. The first time he was 55, but "then I had to go back to work for 20 years." Ed says he worked three jobs while in college. At Georgia-Pacific, he often worked 12 hour days and up to 18 hours when he traveled. "Work hard and you'll get what you want," is his message. He attributes his success to his work ethic and his love of the outdoors.

Ed says he used to sing at four or five assisted living homes during the 1980s, but had to stop after sustaining a stroke. These days, he can still be heard singing songs around town, at the bank, at Bi-Mart or perhaps at one of the bars downtown. With a repertoire of a few hundred songs, he has a business card that touts him as "Broadway Ed, Songs for most occasions, Sinatra - Nat Cole - Broadway - Irish - Bar Room." He adds, "I have a lot of fun with it and people seem to like it. If you don't use it, you lose it. I love to sing and I like people. I've always tried to be a good Samaritan and learn to be caregiving."

Ed, 90, was in the U.S. Marines from 1945 to '49. Nowadays he's active with the Central Oregon Band of Brothers and the Redmond VFW. He says his military experience taught him physical and mental discipline.

After the Marines, Ed got on the G.I. Bill and studied business forestry in upstate New York, eventually landing a sales job with Georgia-Pacific. After working for a time in New Jersey and New York City, Ed was transferred to company headquarters in Olympia, Wash. 

Barb, 89, says she could not leave the humidity and hubbub of New Jersey fast enough. "I was glad to come out west, believe me. It was the best move we ever made," she says. After leaving the East Coast, Barb says they "never looked back." Shortly after moving west, she gave birth to one of their five children. "The nurses out here were so nice and so different than back east," she says.

Georgia-Pacific's headquarters eventually moved to Portland, where Ed and Barb lived from 1958 to 1978. The couple later found their way to the Tollgate community outside of Sisters. They built their "dream home," an open A-frame-type house modeled after a Swiss barn, where they lived for about 10 years.

Ed said they "had the world by the tail," but then began dabbling in real estate, which Ed says "got my buns burned" when interest rates soared to 21 percent by 1980.

They then built a spec house in Redmond in 1987, one of only seven building permits that year, according to Ed. Eventually they custom-built a house that looked out on Mt. Jefferson, while Ed developed lots in the area.

In 2001, they decided to sell again and hit the road in a 5th wheel, logging thousands of miles traveling from Arizona to Canada and back to Redmond. Those days of travel are gone now, as Ed continues his fight against cancer, and Barb's health keeps her homebound. Ed says his grandmother lived to be 94, adding, "So I may still have a few more years."

In his study, the walls are covered by photographs, mostly black and white. Among them are photos personally autographed by Duke Ellington and drummer Gene Krupa.

Ever the performer himself, Ed says he also has fond memories of working and singing at Mt. Bachelor. "I would sing off the balcony, and the skiers would give me a hand," he says. Ed remembers having a good stretch of about seven years during which he skied 200 days a year. "I've always loved the outdoors."

He stopped skiing at age 79 after being "creamed" by a snowboarder, but he still loves to go over and fish the McKenzie River. "Singing and fishing are my main pursuits," he says, adding that he also works out four times a week. "That's something all elderly should do."

About The Author

Richard Sitts

Richard Sitts grew up in the midwest, mostly in Kansas. After earning a journalism degree from Kansas State University, he worked in various capacities at newspapers in Kansas, New York, New Mexico, California and Colorado, before arriving in Bend several years ago. Highlights included working as a bureau reporter...

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