“Sister Kimmel and Her Blazer-Bs,” Ensign, Aug. 1977, 54–55
This is the story of a woman, but first I must tell you of Michael. He was almost eleven when Sister Kimmel came into his life.
Not every family has a Michael. My husband laughingly says that he thinks there must be a special place in the premortal realms for these lively boy spirits and that some families get to have one to add extra spice to their lives. He is the spoon that stirs the mixture, whether it wants to be stirred or not. Fortunately, Sister Kimmel was the kind of teacher who takes the time to discover the qualities that make these Michaels special.
We had just moved from the East to southern California to be close to our families, since my husband was to be gone for perhaps a year because of a job assignment. Michael had had many fine Primary teachers, but toward the end of his tenth year he decided that Primary wasn’t for him. I made sure, however, that he at least attended in body. Then along came Sister Kimmel. Michael was advanced into her Blazer-B patrol a little early.
It is wonderful how an association of only nine months can affect a life and a family. Sister Kimmel discovered very quickly Michael’s choicest qualities, and she concentrated on them. She knew that we all learn by doing, and what doing that patrol of eleven-year-olds did! They enjoyed a nature outing to the tide pools, and another at the Griffith Planetarium. They went yachting off Newport (thanks to one of the doctors in the ward). They went bowling (Michael says that Sister Kimmel was “a really good bowler and made us behave in public”). Of course, they went swimming and hiking and even did a little mountain climbing. One particular mountain was pretty rough, with the last footage particularly hard, and the boys reached down to pull Sister Kimmel to the top. There was a bench up there and Sister Kimmel’s comment was, “Well, I wonder who got that up here?” But Michael reported that she utilized it for at least thirty minutes “until she got herself all back together.”
She would often have the boys over to her home for special treats—the milkshakes and cream puffs are well remembered. “She just has a special way of making everyone happy,” Michael said.
She knew how much he missed his dad. One day she called and asked if Michael could accompany her into Santa Ana—she wanted to check out a Scouting display at one of the local parks and needed “good company.” He was delighted, and off the two of them went to spend the day together.
Michael would often get reminder notes through the mail about events coming up, or a line about the qualities she appreciated in him and a reminder that she needed his help for better disciplined meetings.
Then there was the day camp. It was to be a big event. The boys had been well briefed on their Scouting skills, and they had full uniforms down to the socks. (Sister Kimmel always seemed to have an extra pair or two in her purse on days like this.) They rode off with their leader and had high hopes that they would win those coveted black beads showing they were number one in the stake. They were gone into late afternoon. I heard the car come around our corner before I saw it. The horn began honking wildly and I knew before the doors burst open that the boys had their black beads.
I don’t know how she found such energies to magnify her calling. Her family was grown, but her elderly mother was living with her and her husband and required much care. The Relief Society called on her frequently to accept special assignments. She was active in the community. She even styled hair for others, and I found out that she used her earnings for “special treats and things for the boys.” One of these special things was a stamp album for Michael. She started him on his stamp collection, and to this day they correspond and she sends him interesting stamps. (Her husband is a ham operator and receives mail from foreign countries.)
She called on Michael the night before we were to move again and told him once more of her love for him. She will always hold a special place in his life.
Perhaps the feeling of the boys and their families was best expressed by Scott Williams, who was assigned the month before we left California to represent the patrol at a sacrament meeting. Scott explained the program of Scouting and preparation for the priesthood. He said they learned many things from the scriptures. “They tell us how to live, but so does Sister Kimmel!” Then he said, “I’d like Sister Kimmel to stand up so everyone can see what a grand lady she is.” Lela M. Kovalenko, Salt Lake City, Utah