Friday, July 20, 2012

Carey to honor retired rancher

Lawrence Kimball has high hopes for motocross track

Express Staff Writer

Lawrence Kimball, pictured with his wife Darla, will be honored this weekend during the Pioneer Days parade in Carey. Courtesy photo

Lawrence Kimball said he was surprised to be named grand marshal for the Pioneer Days parade in Carey this weekend.

"I thought, hell, that's for old folks from town," he joked.

Kimball plans to trade in his horse team for a dirt bike for the Saturday parade, a sign that Carey is looking forward as well as to its history during this year's celebration.

Kimball, 67, farmed using horses in his youth on his family's Fish Creek Ranch north of Carey. He also ran a draft horse team for 14 winters, pulling sleighs full of tourists across Warm Springs Ranch in Ketchum to a Mongolian yurt for dinner before the operation was closed down years ago.

"The old-timers around here are telling me I've been a teamster all of my life, but if we're going to do this we have to use motorcycles," Kimball said with a laugh.

Kimball said he's looking forward with a sense of humor to the parade, but can't understand why it was moved several years ago from the highway that is Main Street to Lake View Drive near the high school.

"I think those stores on Main Street would like the business," he said. "Traffic will only be stopped for 30 minutes. It's not like the Rose Bowl Parade."

Kimball recently built an 18-acre motocross track on his ranch. Last Saturday, about 40 riders showed up at the track, which Kimball said he hopes will soon attract many more. He said motocross events could be good for business in Carey.

"You can get a lot of people at a big race, and they're all running into town, buying fuel sandwiches and Gatorade," he said.

Kimball and his wife, Darla, have one son, Todd Kimball, who worked at Les Schwab in Hailey and now oversees Les Schwab stores in Utah. Todd and his wife, Chris, have a daughter, Marissa and a son, Justin, who loves to ride motorcycles.

"Todd travels a lot, but it keeps Justin in motorcycles," Kimball said.

Lawrence Kimball was working at Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale Calif., when he was drafted into the Army in 1965, along with Bill Williams from Hailey. They were the first two men drafted from Blaine County during the Vietnam War.

After Kimball was running troop supplies for four months in Vietnam, his superior officer asked his unit if anyone had experience cutting meat.

"I raised my hand and said I had some experience cleaning deer," said Kimball, who spent the rest of his tour as an army butcher in Saigon. He later spent a year at the Presidio in San Francisco, which he called "a pretty wild place for a little redneck from Idaho."

"I doubt if anyone there remembers me, but I think I left a mark," he said. "You really appreciate the United States after Vietnam."

Kimball said he retired from the military with a rank of "Spec. 5."

"That means you're not smart enough to have too much authority, but smart enough to not take too much crap from anyone else," he said. "We weren't looking for a Purple Heart."

After his discharge, Kimball worked construction at what is now called the Idaho National Laboratory, building condos in Sun Valley and pouring concrete at a hotel in Elkhorn, then took over the family farm, running sheep and a dairy cow business for five years, before a back injury ended his farming career.

"I never planned to be a farmer," he said.

Tony Evans:

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