Tonganoxie Recreation Commission honors Kimberlin as part of Summer Kickoff Party
Russ Kimberlin has been a part of the Tonganoxie Recreation Commission for nearly 40 years.
Whether it’s been as a coach in youth sports, a board member or an employee, Kimberlin has put in many years for the organization.
“I’ve worked long and hard, but it’s been rewarding,” Kimberlin said Saturday at Chieftain Park.
Kimberlin was named as the latest inductee to the TRC Wall of Fame at the recreation commission’s annual Summer Kickoff Party.
The Wall of Fame started in 2007 as a way to honor those who have contributed to the TRC through the years.
Kimberlin is the 15th inductee. He was a charter member of the Tonganoxie Jaycees in 1963 and also served on the Tonganoxie City Council. While on the council, he worked to create Centennial Park, which is the park at U.S. Highway 24-40 and Washington Street.
Originally from McLouth, Kimberlin was on the TRC board in 1994 when the commission’s first director, Mark Zerrer, was hired. Zerrer also is Wall of Fame inductee.
John Evans II was the master of ceremonies, rattling off Kimberlin’s backstory and list of accomplishments and activities with the recreation commission.
Kimberlin started his association with the TRC in 1974 as a volunteer baseball coach. After his coaching days, he was appointed to the commission in 1985.
In addition to the push for Centennial Park and helping hire Zerrer, he served as commission chair from 1986-96. He also was instrumental in the development of the current baseball/softball complex at the Leavenworth County Fairgrounds. Kimberlin also served as president of the Kaw Valley Summer Baseball/Softball Association and still serves as league treasurer.
In total, Kimberlin served for 12 years on the commission board until his final term expired in 1997.
In 2002, he returned to the recreation commission as a full-time worker and served as maintenance supervisor from 2002-09. He continues to serve the commission part-time, primarily with upkeep of Chieftain Park.
Kimberlin graduated from McLouth High School and moved to Tonganoxie in 1959 with his wife, Charlene. They have a son, Mark, and two grandchildren, Taylor and Colby.
The induction was one of the final events at the kickoff party, which included a hot dog roast, children’s games and a money grab event in which youths had a chance to search for money in hay bales. Magician Keith Willis also performed at the event.
The festivities concluded with the Silly Critter Pet Show.
The contest attracted mostly dog entries, as well as a kitten, goat and rat.
Winning the pet/owner look-alike category were Thriller the dog and his owner, Keith Willis. Best pet trick went to Daisy the dog, owned by Mind Lux. Daisy won by rolling over repeatedly on command.
Mack the dog, owned by Jenna Witt, earned the title of fluffiest animal, while Micky the dog, owned by Kay Mckenzie Nichles, was named best dressed. Thriller also won the cutest pet category. Each winner received a $20 gift card from Petco.
Judges for the pet show were Vicki Smith, Tonganoxie veterinarian; Crystal Blackdeer, Leavenworth County Humane Society director; and Shawn Linenberger, Mirror news editor.
Organizers were able to get the show finished before inclement weather rolled through Saturday evening.