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Obituary: Joseph Paul Kimble, Former Beverly Hills Police Chief

Joseph Paul Kimble died on Oct. 20. He served as chief of police in Beverly Hills from 1969-71.

Joseph Paul Kimble, former police chief of Beverly Hills and San Carlos whose law enforcement career spanned 35 years, has died. He was 86.

During his career, he also served as a supervisor of security for the 1969 Woodstock festival and as head of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s VIP security squad where he oversaw security for several dignitaries who visited the San Francisco Bay area.

Mr. Kimble also was a loving and devoted husband. He married his wife, Marilyn, in 1951 and they celebrated their 61st anniversary this year. They had two daughters. 

Mr. Kimble died in his San Carlos home early in the morning of Oct. 20 after a lengthy illness.

Born in Lima, OH, in 1926, Mr. Kimble left home to join the U.S. Navy at the age of 17 in 1943. He served as a radio operator on a submarine in the Pacific during World War II.

After the war, Mr. Kimble moved to South San Francisco, where he worked at various odd jobs until he joined the South San Francisco Police Department in 1949. He later left that post to join the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department, where he eventually rose to the rank of captain.

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Mr. Kimble’s assignments included serving as head of the security details for dignitaries visiting the area. As part of that assignment, Mr. Kimble planned security for The Beatles’ 1964 concert at the Cow Palace, where he took the stage in front of the band to calm a raucous crowd so the concert could continue.

He also arranged security for visits to the San Francisco Bay area by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev, French President Charles De Gaulle, German Chancellor Konrad Adenaur, the Shah of Iran, and many other luminaries of the time. 

In addition, Mr. Kimble was part of the security team for the 1956 Republican National Convention and headed security for the 1964 Republican National Convention, both at the Cow Palace.

Mr. Kimble later left the sheriff’s department to become Police Chief of the San Carlos Police Department. He eventually was courted by Miami and Beverly Hills to head their police departments. He accepted the position in Beverly Hills in 1969.

The Los Angeles Times noted Mr. Kimble’s “national reputation as an expert on civil disorders” and called him “one of the ‘new breed’ of highly educated policemen.” 

Near the beginning of his term as Beverly Hills Police Chief, Mr. Kimble took a week-long leave of absence to serve as a supervisor of the security team for the 1969 Woodstock concert. Time magazine wrote that Mr. Kimble “supervised an extraordinarily lenient security force at Woodstock.”

The work of the security force at Woodstock was a source of pride for Mr. Kimble.

“We told every officer who worked security that we were going to be ‘peace officers,’ not cops. That we had to establish a rapport with the crowds and not take police action unless it was absolutely necessary,” he wrote in an unpublished auto-biography.

Mr. Kimble said later in an interview with the Los Angeles Times: “I’ve never seen that many people in so small an area who acted so peacefully. It proves something I’ve believed for a long time—that people are capable of policing themselves if they want to.”

During his term in Beverly Hills, Mr. Kimble met a number of dignitaries and celebrities, among them Elvis Presley, Bobby Darin, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, astronaut Neil Armstrong, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, Bill Cosby, former Vice President Spiro Agnew and George Carlin, to name a few.

After leaving Beverly Hills, the State University of New York at Stony Brook hired Mr. Kimble as Director of Campus Police. His duties also included directing the campus fire department. During his time at Stony Brook, Mr. Kimble earned a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice.

Mr. Kimble left Stony Brook in 1974 to become Director of Police at the University of Houston, which was so large it was considered “a city within a city.” 

Eventually, Mr. Kimble moved back to California where he finished his career as De Anza College Director of Campus Security and Facilities in Cupertino. He retired from law enforcement in 1984.

One of Mr. Kimble’s great loves in life was travel. Over his lifetime he traveled extensively in 50 countries. He often presented travelogues at the San Carlos Adult Community Center. He also was a founding member of the center’s Macintosh Users Group, know as San Carlans Using Macintosh (SCUM). 

Mr. Kimble is survived by his wife Marilyn; daughters Kerry Kimble and Kim Aguayo, grandchildren Genevieve Goings, Lori Aguayo Ball and P.J. Aguayo; and three great grandchildren.

A celebration of his life is planned at the San Carlos Adult Center, 601 Chestnut Street, San Carlos, CA, on Dec. 8 from noon to 3 p.m.

Did you know Joseph Kimble? Share some memories of him in the comment section below.

[Editor's Note: This obituary was written by Mr. Kimble's son-in-law Rusty Sterling.]

George Vreeland Hill October 28, 2012 at 01:33 AM
Wow! What a great life. Joseph did an outstanding job in Beverly Hills. He will be missed.

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