Skip to content


Mary Ellen (James) Kimble was born to Victor “Jim” and Anna “Evelyn” (Jackson) James on August 9, 1940, and passed away on November 26, 2022, at the age of 82 years and three months.
Mary Ellen was a life-long learner who spent over 19 years in formal education; starting school at Woodland Country School near Redding, moving to Lafayette, CO and eventually returning to the Grant City, MO area. Mary Ellen excelled in academics and played saxophone for the symphonic band, marching band and orchestra. She finished her high school career graduating from Mount Ayr High School. She then followed in her mother’s footsteps and earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Northwest Missouri State University.
In the spring of 1959 Mary Ellen asked Larry Kimble to attend a Sadie Hawkins dance and the following summer they were engaged. Considering both she and Larry were college students, they wed over semester break in January 1960. The couple finished their undergraduate college careers living in a small trailer with Mary Ellen working at a local grocery store and Larry at a gas station. They welcomed daughter Vickie, 10 months and three weeks later.
The couple both began their teaching careers with the Mount Ayr Community School District in 1961, with Mary Ellen teaching sixth grade at the Redding, IA building for two years until son, Kurtis, was born. The snowstorm of 1961 lived on in their memories as she and a coworker were stranded until a neighbor was able to rescue them on his tractor while she was seven months pregnant.
Mary Ellen stayed home raising her family until she was asked in 1965 to be the High School Librarian for Worth County Missouri Schools. This is where her love of library sciences was born.
She began work on her master’s degree in library sciences from Emporia State University in 1984 and graduated summa cum laude. From there Mary Ellen accepted a position as a reference librarian with the University of Kansas Medical School in Kansas City, KS. In 1987 she began her thirteen-year career with Northwest Missouri State. Finding information and answers for others helped fuel her own passion for reading and learning, predominantly in the areas of Native American culture and American History.
Deciding she wanted to see her husband on a daily basis, Mary Ellen accepted a library position with Dickinson State University in Dickinson, ND. In 2002 she was able to fulfill her dream job of working with Native American children as a high school librarian at Fort Peck Reservation in Popular, MT, retiring in 2008. Larry found he could not successfully retire, so the couple returned to the classroom a year later at Ignite, ND.
The couple always returned to the family farm each summer, to reunite with friends and make sure the farm, and especially her flower garden, was in good hands and returned for good in 2014 to help with the care of Vickie. Mary Ellen, Larry and Vickie were able to travel throughout Vickie’s cancer diagnosis and enjoyed their limited time together in Scotland and Ireland in 2013 and Germany, Austria and Switzerland in 2014. Mary Ellen and Larry took their first Caribbean cruise in 2015, loving it so much they did it again a year later. A special place in Mary Ellen’s heart belonged to New Mexico; traveling with daughter, Vickie, daughter-in-law, Laura, niece, Angie, and friend, Vickie, to see her childhood friend/cousin, Ann (Abar) Bennett. Visiting Acoma Pueblo and Earl’s were always on the itinerary. Mary Ellen’s final excursion was with Larry and their son, Kurtis, and his wife, Laura, to Dogwood Canyon and Top of the Rock in Branson.
Mary Ellen was an avid reader, loved to play the piano, collecting and displaying Howard Terpning’s paintings of Native American subjects, and was a talented artist with needlepoint and crocheting. Her work was cherished by those who received her art as gifts and can be found on the walls at the university library at Northwest Missouri State University.
Those welcoming her in heaven include her beloved daughter, Vickie, her brother, Luis “Nip” James, her parents and many loved ones.
Left to keep Mary Ellen alive in their memories include husband, Larry, son, Kurtis, and his wife, Laura, sister, Becky James, sister-in-law, Maria “Tey” James, grandchildren, Payden (Brittany) Harris, Ashten Kimble (Eric Martin) and Aubrey (Hunter) Treadwell, great grandchildren, Tucker and Harper Harris and Andi Treadwell, and many more friends and relatives.
Services were held at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 4, 2022 at Armstrong Funeral Home in Mount Ayr, IA.
Officiating was Pastor Bill Armstrong.
Songs were “I Want To Stroll Over Heaven With You”, “How Great Thou Art” and “I Will Always Love You”.
Casketbearers were Pat Hardy, Brad Hardy, Bart Hardy, Jake Hardy, Britt Hardy and Martin Maudlin.
Private burial was at the Hickory Grove Cemetery in Mount Ayr, IA.
Memorials will be in her name to be decided.

Leave a Comment