Rotarian honored by new room at Serenity House

Rotary members release balloons in honor of late club member Lee Kimbrough at the Serenity House in Morristown. The Serenity House named a room in Kimbrough’s honor.

The late Lee Kimbrough was honored Wednesday with the naming of the all-seasons room at the Serenity House the Lee Kimbrough room.

Gordon Lintz, of the Noon Rotary Club’s service committee, discussed Rotary’s mission.

“Rotary is a service organization that serves the community. We have done many projects in our community, such as at Fred Miller Park, at the Farmer’s Market Greenspace, renovations to Lincoln Heights School’s library, the honor guard of the West High JROTC.

“We wanted to come up with a special project in 2019 because wewanted to remember a wonderful Rotarian, Lee Kimbrough. The committee got together and thought about Lee’s love for Morristown, for service in our community, his love for Rotary service. We decided that the all-seasons room at Serenity House would be a perfect project to remember Lee,” Lintz said.

“It is an excellent addition to Serenity House and will help them continue their mission and ministry into the future,” Lintz said.

Serenity House’s mission is to serve those with terminal cancer who do not have long to live to live out those days in comfort.

“I want to thank you all and to let you know what an honor it is to serve as director here,” Stephanie Hammill said. “Ten years ago, we had this vision. I never dreamed that we would be where we are today. Starting in our small house in the Housing Authority, the way we were able to move forward and the way the community has pulled together to get us here has been such a blessing. When the Rotary Club approached us about this room, I had a vision of this room to be a part of our home so we could have room to do all of the things we wanted to do.”

“They can pass on in an environment of respect and dignity, and that’s what we all want,” Lintz said.

The current facility has capacity for three to four clients, with a waiting list of seven, according to Hammill.

Anita Kimbrough, Lee’s widow, presented memories of her husband.

“It’s truly an honor that the Rotarians are honoring my husband’s memory. Lee is looking down right now, really feeling touched, feeling he doesn’t deserve this honor. You all have walked this walk with him in the last 16 years since he joined Rotary in 2002. The Rotarians were always rallying around him through cards, visits and prayers.”

Since Lee’s death, thanking has been Anita’s biggest word.

“Lee truly enjoyed being a Rotarian,” Anita said. “He enjoyed the fellowship and what Rotary stood for, service above self. Lee would have enjoyed the room himself, with the all of the windows looking out, seeing the birds and animals, and oh, yeah, he’d be feeding every one of them. He would have enjoyed watching the rain fall and loving the lightning. Now, the comfort is giving to all of the patients that enter this room. Lee will be there now giving those patients hugs and showing the way to heaven, because even in death, I know he would have loved to have had the job.”

Lee was an amazing guy, with a little help from the woman standing behind him, she said.

“He was always a perfectionist and took everything seriously. He would always tell the kids if you’re always going to do something, do it with pride and give it your all. You didn’t disappoint if you give your all. He also said to be kind and humble,” Anita said.

Lee gave it his all in his health as well.

In Feb., 2008, Lee had four bypasses and was back to golfing a month later. In December of that year, the Cleveland Clinic doctors couldn’t believe how well he was doing.

“The doctors told him he wouldn’t survive the first surgery, he did. They thought for sure he would be dead after the second, he wasn’t. That goes to show you that God wasn’t done with him yet,” Anita said.

Lee underwent a lung transplant in May, 2013.

“He was working the day he got the call with 15 percent lung capacity. Nothing was holding him down. After this surgery, he was back on the phone and doing business six days later and was out of the hospital in nine days. The doctors walked in and just smiled. We came home on the fourth of July and out of the eight hours of driving, he drove five and a half. I drove three hours and had to fight for the three. He was an awesome husband most of the time. He was a good son, father, golfer, boss, Rotarian, grandfather and, of course, patient.

“When Lee went to hospice, the staff stood in the hall as we went to the elevators and they all loved on him. In 2014, the skin cancers popped up all over. He never had melanoma. The side effects from the rejection drugs and the golf all those years. Be sure to wear your sunscreen.”

She said through every illness, Lee said to God, “OK, God, we’ve got this, let’s go.”

“He loved you all, you were a part of his family. He had to be buried with the Paul Harris Medal around his neck. He wouldn’t have it any other way,” Anita said. “Even in death, Lee is doing the Rotarian thing, service before self.”

A plaque honoring Lee was hung on the wall of the all-seasons room.

At the end of the ceremony, the Rotarians went outside and released 211 balloons to honor Lee and all of those who have passed away at Serenity House.