Who was Mike Kimball?

Mike Kimball was an accomplished amateur runner and father of five who died at age 52  due to ocular melanoma. Michael left behind a closet full of trophies (and two closets full of running shoes) from his years of running in seacoast New Hampshire and southern Maine. He was particularly good at 5K and 10K distances.

He attempted the Boston Marathon twice, but never finished. He started Boston the first time in 1980, when his wife was imminently due with their first son. He said he was so nervous about the impending birth that he ran off the course, got in his car and drove back home to Kittery Point, ME.

In his mid-40s he had a anomaly in his eye checked out. A biopsy confirmed that he had ocular melanoma, or skin cancer of the eye. He was treated at Mass Eye and Ear. To be on the safe side, doctors ultimately recommended, and he agreed, to have his left eye removed.

He returned to running and, absent one eye, an otherwise healthy life. He spent more than one summer living in a cabin on our property in Middleton, NH. One or more of his kids would often come to stay with him.

In 2004 he began to notice some difficulty with his running. His times were slowing despite his conditioning. Tests revealed his, and his family’s, worst fears. The melanoma had not disappeared and in fact had metastisized elsewhere in his body.

Mike fought the cancer the same way he fought through a tough race–with fierce competitive spirit, grace. He and his sister Cheryl (my wife) sought out every possible remedy or reasonable option. Ocular melanoma is rare enough that at the time clinical trials were not interested in his case. It was frustrating for all.

By early 2005 it became evident that treatments were not winning the battle for his body. He came to live with Cheryl and I under hospice care. He had good days and bad days. He fought hard. His family supported him. He died April 27, 2005 on his eldest son’s birthday, surrounded by his family.

Hundreds of friends and family members turned out for Michael’s funeral. He was one of those rare people who connected with others on their terms and was happy to take a moment and listen to what others had to say. I think it’s fair to say that no one of us knew to what extent Mike was a friend to so many others. He is still deeply missed today.

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