Last September started out as a time of new beginnings for Jamie Kimble ’02. She had just landed a promotion working for the Coca-Cola Consolidated Company (based in Charlotte, N.C.) and was moving from Anna Maria Island, Fla., to Dallas, Texas, to become a regional sales director. Earlier in the summer, she had finally left an abusive boyfriend and found someone new from Liverpool, England. But on Sept. 3, her ex tracked her down and killed her. A few minutes later, he killed himself.
It was a mentally abusive relationship, said Ron Kimble, Jamie’s father. “He took Jamie’s best quality—her endless compassion—and used it against her,” Ron said. “It’s hard to leave an abusive relationship. It’s easier to stay, but she mustered the courage and did it.”
Ron and Jamie’s mother, Jan, who have been married for 33 years, are still grieving the loss of their only child. They prefer to remember how Jamie lived, rather than how she died. Jamie was a loving daughter, a great dancer, a rabid sports fan who loved the Tar Heels and the Carolina Panthers, an ambitious worker, and a devoted friend—the friend who would call someone at midnight on their birthday to start the celebration immediately. The Kimbles have not one but two large scrapbooks made from the letters, photos and notes that Jamie’s friends, Tri Sigma sorority sisters and co-workers sent after she died. Many of these letters read: “Jamie had such a positive impact on me.”
“There was nobody who didn’t like Jamie,” Jan said.
Even in their grief, Ron and Jan have decided to become activists against domestic violence, vowing to spread awareness and education wherever they can. They are beginning at Carolina because Jamie thrived in Chapel Hill and loved it here.
“Jamie was a Carolina grad,” Jan said.
“Chapel Hill helped her achieve …” Ron added. “ … Helped her become who she was,” Jan finished.
They just created the Jamie Kimble Scholarship for Courage at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Their intent is to memorialize their daughter—a 2002 graduate of the Department of Nutrition and recipient of the Joseph Edozien Outstanding Undergraduate Award—and also to bring awareness to the plague of domestic violence. According to statistics compiled by the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence, almost one quarter of women in the U.S. (23.6 percent) and 11.5 percent of men will report at least one lifetime episode of intimate-partner violence. The cost of domestic violence to the U.S. economy is more than $8.3 billion. This cost includes medical care, mental health services and lost productivity (e.g., time away from work). Four people a day die in the U.S. from domestic violence.
While the scholarship will be available to all students, the Kimbles’ preference is to help a student who:
- would otherwise have difficulty in paying for a Carolina education, or
- is in the Department of Nutrition, or
- commits to a career in the prevention of domestic violence, or
- has been affected by domestic violence.
“We want to help others that might be in a similar situation,” Jan said. “We want to make a huge dent in the escalation of domestic violence,” Ron added. “The key is prevention, education and awareness to get to the root cause, and to get to the perpetrators as well as to assist the victims. The cause is the perpetrators. You’ve got to get help for them as well as provide assistance for the victims.”
The scholarship is only one part of the Kimbles’ plan. In lieu of flowers for Jamie’s funeral, they asked that memorial donations go to Safe Alliance, the Clyde and Ethel Dickson Domestic Violence Shelter, a haven for battered women and children in Charlotte. More than $25,000 was sent in Jamie’s name, so a room in the shelter’s newly opened facility will be named for her.
Ron and Jan are motivated not only by love for Jamie but also by her great courage, so they have organized their philanthropic and awareness efforts under the Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage in Charlotte. And they are being courageous by simply going forward, every day. “We are so proud of our daughter,” Ron said. “The only way we can move ahead is help others who are in similar situations.”
By Claire Cusick