Cover photo for John A. Kimbrell's Obituary
John A. Kimbrell Profile Photo
1939 John 2019

John A. Kimbrell

November 28, 1939 — April 5, 2019

John Allen Kimbrell, beloved husband, father, and grandfather, stepped away from this earth on Friday, April 5, 2019. He died peacefully, surrounded by those who loved him most, at Seasons of Life Hospice in Woodruff. John is survived by Jill Lemke, his wife of 39 years, daughter Wendy Kimbrell and granddaughter Emily Witcraft. He is also survived by brothers Clint Kimbrell and Warren Bowers. He was preceded in death by his parents, Thomas Kimbrell and Rabena Bowers, and sisters June Kimbrell and Carol Gillespie.

John was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, one of five children who all grew to lead successful, meaningful lives. John graduated in 1957 from Humes High School in Memphis, TN, the same high school from which Elvis Presley graduated four years earlier. After High School, John served in the Army from 1962 to 1964, stationed at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Subsequently, John moved to Chicago, IL, and worked his way up the corporate ladder to become Vice President of Administration at the Chicago offices of William M. Mercer Co. Inc. It was there that he met Jill Lemke, a colleague and friend who ultimately became his bride.

John and Jill relocated in 1986 to Sayner, WI, where they purchased and enhanced Pastimes, a gift emporium on Sayner’s Main Street. After creating and serving as President of the Sayner/Star Lake Chamber of Commerce for more than 15 years, John worked closely with Jill to create two additional Sayner businesses that attracted patrons from across the world.

John loved to read, most specifically historical biographies and political satire. A good book was always a friend to him, as was a good movie or play. He favored Westerns, and his favorite movie was “Jeremiah Johnson.” John treasured poetry and music, and would spend long hours listening to admired artists such as John Prine, Bob Dylan, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Rod Stewart, Willie Nelson, and Johnny Cash. He held undying affection for beloved Chicago bands like Alliotto, Haynes & Jeremiah. In the ‘70s, John was a regular at Chicago’s famed Earl of Old Town, where he dined with the likes of Steve Goodman, Carly Simon, and John Prine.

Throughout his life, John loved his friends. He chose them carefully, and treasured every minute they shared -- card games, fishing excursions, road trips, morning coffee … really anywhere they could enjoy some laughs. He cared for his friends as he did his family -- with dignity, loyalty and devotion. John was the man friends and family would turn to when they were troubled, lonely, or just wanted to talk.

He loved us well. He made us laugh. The world is a different place without him.

Per John’s wishes, a private memorial service was held following cremation. Those wishing to honor their memories of John can make a donation in his name to Seasons of Life Hospice, 8951 Woodruff Road, Woodruff, WI 54568, and Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church, PO Box 63, Minocqua, WI, 54548.

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