Walter Kimball (1911-2004)

Dr. Walter Kimball, outdoorsman, conservationist, and longtime friend and supporter of the San Juan Preservation Trust, lived a full and productive life, leaving behind a legacy that will benefit generations of islanders and visitors to his much loved San Juan Islands.

In the 1980s, he donated to the Preservation Trust 64 acres of land on the southern tip of Decatur Island. Named the Kimball Preserve, this magnificent property includes wildlife habitat, waterfront, forest, and grass headlands that provide boaters on Lopez Sound and Lopez Channel spectacular views of pristine land. In addition, Dr. Kimball’s estate included a charitable remainder trust with the Preservation Trust as a beneficiary.

Dr. Kimball’s admiration of the San Juans began in the 1940s when he and his wife, Alicia Perea-Munoz of Argentina, first visited Orcas Island. “They bought the property on Decatur Island when I was eight, and we spent many summer holidays camping on the island,” recalls Lee Kimball, his daughter. “My father had a great love for the San Juans and for the outdoors. He was horrified by increased development of the islands. That’s why he donated his property to the Preservation Trust.”

Dr. Kimball practiced orthopedic surgery in Seattle for 30 years. Before starting his medical training, he worked at the Chicago Board of Trade, attended the Colorado School of Mines, and sailed for two years as a cadet trainee with the Dollar Steamship Lines — work that introduced him to Seattle and the Northwest. Shortly after they married in 1944, the Kimballs moved to Seattle, where Dr. Kimball began his internship at Harborview Hospital.

While devoted to medicine, Dr. Kimball loved animals (they loved him as well, said his daughter), the mountains, and the San Juan Islands. “He didn’t hunt or fish,” said Ms. Kimball, “but he loved to walk, hike, climb and run in the mountains and on the islands. He spent as much time as possible in the outdoors, including his property on Decatur Island.”

After retirement in 1995 he concentrated on the many crafts he enjoyed, from woodworking to glass blowing and pottery. He spent his last few years near his daughter in Washington, DC.