Tribute to Colleague

mou0052025-2_20161130Thank you, Ed Kimball

By Jonathan Stapley

I never met Ed Kimball face-to-face, and I regret that. He passed away yesterday (Nov. 21, 2016), and our thoughts and prayers are with his family.


Ed’s son Chris, who is a friend of BCC, was quoted by the Trib:

“Dad saw three-dimensional people,” Chris Kimball said. “He did it in serving on the parole board (which has an enhanced role because Utah uses indeterminate sentencing, where the court determines the type or degree of felony, each of which comes with a time range, and the parole board determines the actual time for the individual case). He did it in serving as a bishop. He did not categorize or label people (and in that he and my mother were opposites, so I know the difference). He saw individuals and in some cases told their story.”

This skill was particularly helpful, his son said, in the writing of Mormon history.

“My father wanted to make a difference in the world of Mormon history and biography,” Chris Kimball said, “by breaking the mold of hagiography.”

Ed’s biography of his father, Spencer Kimball, was published not long after I began my research and writing on Mormon history. Out of print, it is available on the used market and on Kindle. Reading through it and the expanded version that came on CD with the hardcover, were some of my earlier exposures to “Mormon Studies.”

In the expanded version he included details about Bruce McConkie asking Camilla to help bless Spencer before a brain surgery. I found his email address from a friend and contacted him. Ed kindly offered me a transcript of his diary entry describing the event. Kris Wright and I included it in our article on Female Ritual Healing, and it has become a frequently cited anecdote. Thank you for your generosity, Ed. You did not know me, but you gave me your faith.

Ed took the material about the revelation on the temple/priesthood restriction from the expanded edition of his biography, and published it with BYU Studies as “Spencer W. Kimball and the Revelation on Priesthood.” With the Gospel Topics Essay on Race and Priesthood, and the work of folks like Paul Reeve, it is easy to forget just how big of a challenge Ed’s article was to common narratives in church bureaucracies.

Ed had several other very important articles. I still frequently refer to “The History of LDS Temple Admission Standards,” (PDF of full issue). And his article on confession is worth checking out.

Again, thank you Ed. When the Lord shall come, and old things shall pass away, and all things become new, and we rise from the dead and shall not die after, I will stand with you before the Lord, in the holy city.

Click here for link to this article in By Common Consent