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'She was a beacon in this world:' Couple tells daughter's story to help victims of domestic violence

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Jan Kimble, mother of Jamie Kimble, talks about her daughter during the first Domestic Violence Impact Luncheon at the Greenville Convention Center. Jan and her husband, Ron, have established a foundation in their daughter's memory to fight domestic violence.

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By Kim Grizzard
The Daily Reflector

Friday, October 12, 2018

For more than three decades, their daughter, Jamie, was the light of Ron and Jan Kimble's lives. A graduate of J.H. Rose High School, Jamie has been described as bright and fun-loving, compassionate and generous, a wonderful example as a daughter, student and friend.

Now, six years after Jamie's death at the hands of an abuser, her parents continue to tell her story to shed light on the problem of domestic violence.

The Kimbles were featured speakers on Thursday at the first Domestic Violence Impact Luncheon, a fundraiser for the Center for Family Violence Prevention. At the event, held at the Greenville Convention Center, the couple announced the establishment of a domestic violence prevention club at their daughter's alma mater.

Rose will become the first school in eastern North Carolina to host one of the clubs, which the Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage has launched at five high schools in Charlotte. The newly formed club is just one way the Center for Family Violence Prevention is working to increase public awareness of domestic violence.

“We believe that awareness and education are two of the strongest stepping stones toward achieving prevention, which is our ultimate goal,” Executive Director Laura King said.

Despite the threat of tropical storm conditions that prompted area schools to close on Thursday, more than 500 people turned out for the first-of-its-kind Domestic Violence Impact Luncheon.

“Some of you would be shocked to see who the victims are,” Donna Raynor, a member of the center's board of directors, told an audience in which many people dressed in purple to show solidarity in the fight against domestic violence. “Domestic violence is something that most people don't think about unless it's a situation that results in a homicide that makes the news.”

In September 2012, Jamie became one of those cases. The 31-year-old was returning to Tampa, Fla., following a trip to London when her ex-boyfriend met her at the airport. He shot and killed her before turning the gun on himself.

Ron and Jan knew nothing of their daughter's fate until a police officer knocked on the door of their home in Charlotte about midnight to break the news.

“What is difficult to comprehend is how could something this terrible and tragic happen to someone so beautiful, so loving, so compassionate and intelligent as our daughter,” Ron said. “You soon come to the realization that it can happen to anyone, anywhere, anyhow, no matter the age, race, gender, socioeconomic status or situation in life.”

Jamie spent much of her childhood in Greenville, where Ron worked for the city for more than 15 years, 10 of them as city manager. A ballet dancer with the North Carolina Academy of Dance Arts, Jamie was an honor student at Rose, graduating near the top of her class. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she completed her undergraduate degree in three and a half years and received the senior award in the School of Public Health. An avid runner and fantasy football enthusiast, Jamie had a successful career with BYB Brands, a Coca-Cola subsidiary. At the time of her death, she had accepted a promotion and was preparing to move to Texas.

“Jamie had it all, an outgoing personality, a warm, beautiful smile, a brilliant mind, beauty, wit, charm, a great job … hundreds of friends, love of family and closeness to God,” Jan said as pictures of her smiling, blonde-haired daughter were shown on a screen behind her. “She had a smile that would melt your heart.”

But for all that Jamie had going for her, there was one thing that deeply concerned her parents: her on-again, off-again relationship with a boyfriend who showed signs of being abusive. While the Kimbles saw no evidence that their daughter was being physically abused, they witnessed emotional and psychological abuse that prompted them and their daughter to seek counseling.

“Sometimes the signs of domestic violence are easy to spot,” Ron said, “but sometimes the signs are so subtle and hidden.”

The Kimbles worried that Jamie's boyfriend was overly jealous and suspicious, noting that he often tried to play on her sympathy and attempted to isolate her from family and friends.

“Those warning signs don't come from a textbook,” Ron said. “They come from experience. They come from our experience.”

The Kimbles said that about three months before her death, their daughter had summoned the courage to break off the relationship for good. But her ex-boyfriend was not willing to let her go.

Experts say victims of domestic violence are at a greater risk of being killed when attempting to leave or after leaving an abuser. Last year, the Center for Family Violence Prevention assisted with almost 200 protection orders for domestic violence victims who continued to fear for their safety after leaving their abusers.

Following their daughter's death, the Kimbles established a scholarship in her name at UNC. The Jamie Kimble Scholarship for Courage is awarded to students pursuing advanced degrees in their studies of violence against women. The Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage recently awarded its sixth scholarship.

The foundation, founded in 2013, has supported some 20 initiatives aimed at domestic violence prevention, education, awareness and research. The Kimbles hope to expand the number of clubs in eastern North Carolina to other schools in Pitt, Martin and Washington counties, areas the Center for Family Violence Prevention serves.

“Our daughter, Jamie, was not just the light of our lives; she was a beacon in this world,” Ron said. “She lived just 31 short, great years on this Earth, but her legacy lives on to save as many others as possible.”

For more information about the Center for Family Violence Prevention, visit c4fvp.org. The number for the 24-hour crisis line is 752-3811.

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