District court judge remembered as #039;wonderful#039;

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 15, 2002

The Honorable Judge Paul Kimball Jr. is remembered as a gentleman who was a gentle man.

"He was both," said Joseph W. Morgan, the retired Mower County Clerk of District Court. who worked with the judge for many years. "He was a perfect gentleman in the courtroom, but those of us who knew him well also knew him as a gentle man in life."

Judge Kimball died July 9 in Santa Barbara, Calif. He was 76 and had been retired from the bench for 16 years.

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After a brief private law practice, he served as a probate, juvenile court, family law and district court judge from 1949-1986.

Morgan worked with the judge, when he was appointed a probate judge, replacing Carl Baudler, and later as a county court judge and finally as a district court judge.

"He was just an interesting guy," Morgan said. "He could talk with you just about anything."

Austin attorney David Hoversten echoed Morgan's observations.

"He was a fair judge, he was a fine man and he was just a wonderful guy," Hoversten said. "He had the countenance of a gentle man in all that he did."

Brian Baudler, another Austin attorney, praised the man as "one of the best judges I've ever appeared before in a courtroom."

Hoversten said Judge Kimball "had the knack of making a court proceeding less intimidating for everyone, the attorneys, the victims, everyone."

Baudler said, "He had that rare ability to make everybody feel comfortable in the courtroom."

He was the son of a justice of the peace in Austin, Paul Kimball, Sr. When his father died, his son took over the justice of the peace duties with his mother, Jess Simpson Kimball. He was 16 at the time.

His son, Dan, with whom he lived at the time of his death, eulogized the "gentle man" others described him to be at his funeral.

"He had to make many difficult decisions over peoples' lives which kept him often awake most of the night reading the cases and contemplating the best way to resolve many difficult problems," said the son.

"He believed strongly in reform over incarceration and was instrumental in establishing new ways of helping kids, who had gone back onto a good path," he said.

After retirement, the judge and his wife moved from Minnesota to Orange County, Calif. The couple later moved closer to their son, Dan, and his wife, Michelle, in Santa Barbara, Calif.

After his wife died in 1997, he moved into Dan and Michelle Kimball's home, where he died last Tuesday.

"He died in his sleep. It was a very peaceful passing," said the son.

The judge was a personal friend of attorney J. Michael Enger, who said, "He was a very highly principled man with impeccable integrity … I don't think I've every heard anyone say anything bad about him," Enger said.

Lee Bonorden can be contacted at 434-2232 or by e-mail at :mailto:lee.bonorden@austindailyherald.com