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Colonel Ralph S. Kimball

C. O., Camp Mills, NY During WWI


Ralph S. Kimball was born in 1884 in Denison, Texas. He was four years younger than Dwight David Eisenhower, who lived nearby. Ralph left no children. He was married in 1943 to Freda Cook Elliott. Freda was first married to Milton A. Elliott Jr., and Freda and Milton had a daughter who was also named Freda who was married to Col. Douglas McNair, who was killed in WWII as was his father, Lt. General Lesley J. McNair.

Years before Ralph had joined the Navy during the depression of 1908. While on a ship sailing around the world, he was constantly sick. The ship was sailing to China. Ralph was put off at Vera Cruz, Mexico where he returned to the U.S. and transferred to the Army. Naturally he was sent by ship to Hawaii, where he studied for Officer Candidate School. He made a higher score than the West Point graduates, which he was proud of that fact for the rest of his life.

As a First Lieutenant he served in the 17th Infantry under General Pershing in the Mexican Punitive Expeditions. He was in the first mechanized cavalry chasing Pancho Villa. Whenever they got in striking distance they had to stop and clean sand out of the carburetors of the Oldsmobile touring cars. In WWI Ralph served in training camps including a short time as Camp Commanding Officer of Camp Mills, New York.

The photo on the right shows Kimball as a Captain before the First World War.

He returned to the Pacific in the 1920's serving in the Philippines until his retirement in 1938. During WWII he returned to active duty serving as the camp Commander at Camp Cook in Nebraska but ulcers forced his retirement as a Colonel. After his second retirement in 1943 he married Freda Cook Elliott. Ralph died on July 23, 1980 and is buried in San Diego, California, Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. According to his brother, Frank, he was told by his doctor he could no longer play golf that morning. He laid down to take a nap and never woke.

Tom Kimball recounts about his great-uncle; "I never met my great uncle and I wonder about his life. When he served under Pershing in the Mexican Punitive Expeditions, a fellow Lt. named George Patton also served with him." Also while serving in the 17th Infantry with Lt. Kimball was Lt. Col. John B. Bennet, a fellow Camp Commander. Lt. Col. Bennet commanded Camp Merritt, NJ from 17 September 1917-19 March 1918. In the Philippines Major Kimball served under McArthur between the wars. "Imagine all the stories he took to his grave."

The above information and photos of Colonel Kimball were shared by Tom Kimball. Colonel Ralph S. Kimball was the great uncle of Tom Kimball.

Major Kimball with a un-named young boy
Major Kimball in Army Dress Whites

Memories of Col. Kimball

Brandon Heller contacted me about Col. Kimball and he shared these memories with me about the Colonel. Brandon writes: "I came across a picture of Colonel Kimball the other day in my grandfathers photo albums. My grandfather lived across the street from him on Kalmia Place in San Diego from 1961, until Col. Kimball sold his house. I have a few vague memories of him. I don't know how many pictures you have of that house, but did you know that it's right on the Balboa Park Golf Course? For the last 20 years or so, that house has been a rental. I rented it for one year, in 1999/2000."

Col. Kimball standing at the gate to his home on Kalmia Place in San Diego, California.

The image of Col. Kimball was taken in the spring of 74, by Brandon's grandfather. Brandon says..."That purple trumpet vine next to him still grows there today. It must be as old as the house. Since I was a child when the Colonel lived there, I don't remember much about him, also, bear in mind that this (house I live in now) was my grandparents house, so I was a visitor when I was here. That being said, my most vivid memories of Colonel Kimball are sitting at my grandparents breakfast table during my visits, and watching him go through the ritual of going out in his car. In that house, that wasn't an easy task. The driveway is very steep, too steep to park those old cars in safely. He would come out of the house, walk through the front gate, turn around and latch the gate behind him, walk down to the garage, unlock the garage door, get in the car, back out fairly quickly, jockey the car around so that it was straight, get out of the car, leaving it running, go back down the steep driveway, close the door and lock it, climb back up the driveway, get in the car and leave. Sometimes, within 10 or 15 minutes, he would be back. After coming back he would leave the car in the street, walk down to the garage, unlock the door, slide it out of the way, climb back up the steep drive, get in the car, park it in the garage, get out, slide the door shut, lock it, and walk back up the hill. When I got old enough to know better, I remember commenting to my grandmother that it sure seemed like a lot of work! Many times, it actually took him longer to get the car in and out of the garage than it did to run the errand. None of the families, who have lived there since, have parked their everyday car in the garage. (Including myself.) It's too damned much work! The mere fact that he did for all those years says a lot about his personality. He was an orderly and methodical man, which was part of the reason he excelled in the military, no doubt. My grandfather is much the same way. I prefer to live my life much more freestyle."

"When I first came across this picture, I didn't recognize him at first. He looks tall and slender in the picture, but I remember him being kind of short. Also, most of the times I saw him he was wearing a hat. I recall that he used a cane. I can't remember for sure when it was he moved out of that house, but it had to have been years before he passed away. By 1976 the Antrums lived there. They still own the house, as well as the house behind my grandfathers house. They lived in it a few years, but have rented it out to various people since the early 80s. Considering the view, I think it's a great value at $1500 month, which is what it rents for now. Over the next several months I am going to compile some information about the history of Kalmia Place. It's had some fascinating personalities over the years, and continues to attract them today. Colonel Kimball was just one of the remarkable people to live on Kalmia Place. He was always kind to me, not a grouch like some of the grown ups around here were. Also, I do remember the funny story of his sea sickness, then switching to the Army so he could stand on terra firma, only to get shipped off to Hawaii, on a ship."


The home of Col. Kimball taken January of 2005

Colonel Kimball's '53 Ford...

Jane Inglese and her brother Milton A Elliott IV contacted me about Colonel Kimball, their step grandfather. Colonel Kimball's wife Freda was previously married to their paternal grandfather, Milton A. Elliott II, and they had 3 children, one of whom was their father, Milton A. Elliott III. Colonel Ralph Kimball married Freda Cook Elliott after she was divorced from her first husband, Colonel Milton A. Elliott II.

Jane Inglese relates, "although he [Col. Kimball] was not our biological grandfather, he was always very good to us and treated us as if we were his. I visited him many times at his house on Kalmia Place and on one visit, he gave me his old 1953 Ford. I had no car at the time, and he was finished driving, so he generously gave it to me." Jane Inglese brother, Milton A. Elliott IV lived with his step grandfather, Col. Ralph Kimball on a number of occasions while going to college from 1965 to 1970.


Above is a newspaper clipping of the McNair family. Col. Douglas McNair's wife Freda Elliott McNair shown above on the left, was the daughter of Colonel Milton A. Elliott II. and Freda Cook Elliott. Both Colonel Douglas McNair and his father Lt. General Lesley J. McNair were killed during WWII. After the death of Colonel McNair in Guam Freda his widow, never re-married. In 1943 Colonel Ralph Kimball married Freda Cook Elliott after she was divorced from her first husband Colonel Milton A. Elliott II.



A view for eternity, looking out on the Pacific from the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.


Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, California.

On the left is the stone of Colonel Ralph S. Kimball, US Army, World War One. Born 30 September 1885 died 23 July 1980.

Below is the stone of his wife Freda Cook, Born 14 June 1888 died 17 September 1961.


This page is owned by Joe Hartwell. Last modified on 6/23/07

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