Donald Leon Kimball, died on December 10, 2020 in Guthrie, Oklahoma. His funeral service will begin at 2:00 p.m. Thursday, December 17, 2020 at the Strode Funeral Home Chapel in Stillwater, Oklahoma with his interment following at Oak Grove Cemetery in Coyle, Oklahoma. Strode Funeral Home and Cremation is in charge of arrangements.
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Donald “Leon” Kimball was born on August 3, 1935 to Elmo and Marie (Dowda) Kimball in a farmhouse near Eakly, OK. By the time Leon was 5 years old, his parents had separated, and his mother and younger brother, Jerry, moved to Washington state while Leon went to live with his “Grandma Kimball” (who had already raised 4 children and a nephew after being widowed at a young age).
He grew up during and after the “Great Depression,” and times were tough. Leon learned to work hard at a very early age; milking cows by lantern light and feeding animals before he went to school. His father meandered in and out of his life, but his Grandma Kimball was his one constant.
In 1953 at the age of 18, he married Modena Lee “Dena” Kimball (who was the ripe old age of 16) and they set up household in a two room “house” located on Grandma Kimball’s farm. Leon and Dena celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary on November 17th, 2020, the day he was diagnosed with COVID-19.
Grandma Kimball died in 1954, and Leon and Dena were displaced by her heirs (children), so they leased a farm nearby raising peanuts and other crops. In 1957 they had their first child, Dora Lynn Kimball (born on a day when Leon was trying to get his cattle worked, and he never let her forget it!).
In 1959 after a good crop year, Leon and Dena sold out of the farm business in western Oklahoma and migrated to southeastern Oklahoma (near McAlester) and bought a property that would eventually fulfill Leon’s lifelong dream of raising cattle and being a “cowboy.” In 1962 their second daughter, Brenda, was born.
Together, they built their ranch over a period of 30 years in Pittsburg County until the workload simply became too great. During those years, Leon also worked at several side jobs including a meat packing company, the Naval Ammunition Depot and most memorably, the Stockyards in McAlester.
During that time, they were building a ranch and raising a family. Leon taught himself to play a guitar, a mandolin, and his favorite: a fiddle. The two of them enjoyed getting together with other bluegrass musicians in their area where the musicians played, and the spouses socialized. They eventually came to be known as “The Fiddler and the Fiddler’s Wife”. They were also faithful members of the Church of Christ, in whatever community they found themselves.
After selling the “big ranch” they bought a smaller place near Paul’s Valley, OK, where they lived about 10 years. They then bought a place “in town” (5 acres in Piedmont) but discovered that “town” had lots of rules (like having a permit to burn stuff, and frowning on shooting at things in the middle of the night). So, in 2006 they bought another 80 acre “farm” near Agra, OK where they raised a few cows, kept a few horses and entertained grandkids. In 2014, they downsized again to a house on an acreage in town (this time in Perkins, OK). Their health began to fail and in 2017, they were persuaded to move closer to their children where they settled in a home in southeast Guthrie.
Leon went to the next Great Ranch, on December 10, 2020. Happy Trails.
He leaves behind his wife, Dena, and his daughters Dora Lynn Chambers ( son in law Bobby, grand children Jared , Jesse, and Jillian) and Brenda (son in law Rick and grandchildren Jennifer and Julie) and 5 great grandchildren.
Condolences may be sent to the family and an online obituary may be viewed by visiting www.strodefh.com