GENEVA – A teacher and librarian at Geneva Middle School North for 28 years, Georgina “Gigi” Kimball died March 20 of complications from cancer.
Seventh-grader Mia Bruno, who thought Kimball was one of the nicest teachers at the middle school, got the ball rolling to raise $20,000 to name a room after her in the new Geneva Public Library to memorialize and honor her.
“When she died, we were just heartbroken,” Mia said. “She was very easy to be around and to talk to. She was a librarian, so before class started in the morning, I would go and talk to her – she was so nice. ... We named the school’s library after her, but after middle school, you would not get to see that anymore.”
In 22 days, the Geneva Library Foundation’s fundraising page for the Gigi Kimball New Library Memorial Fund is nearly halfway to the goal.
Mia first talked to her mother, Autumn Bruno, a science teacher at Geneva Middle School South, about naming a room for Kimball at the new library.
“I thought it was great,” Bruno said. “It was such an amazing way to memorialize Mrs. Kimball.”
Though they did not teach at the same school, Bruno said she met Kimball at a work event shortly after Mia started sixth grade.
“One of the things that struck me right away when I met Mrs. Kimball was that within a couple of minutes, she knew exactly who my daughter was … and the books she checked out.”
Bruno said Kimball had touched many lives in the community and naming a room or a space after her in the new library was a great way to honor her.
“They still like to feel like she’s with them and helping them to grow and learn just like she did at the middle school,” Bruno said.
Bruno suggested Mia speak to her science teacher Jenny Benjamin.
Benjamin connected with another colleague, who contacted David Kimball to make sure he approved of the idea to honor his late wife.
“That said a lot about her as a person that she had this idea,” Benjamin said of Mia. “I’m very proud of her taking the initiative.”
Mia’s idea was passed on to the Geneva Library Foundation, which is hosting a space-naming campaign to raise funds for additional programs and resources at the new library.
The foundation set up the Gigi Kimball fundraising page on its website, glf.kindful.com.
Michael Longo, president of the Geneva Library Foundation, praised the effort to honor Kimball with a space at the new library.
Noting that they raised $9,000 in the first two weeks, Longo stated in an email, “This is a remarkable achievement and is really a testament to Gigi and how she positively impacted the lives of so many students with the love of learning and reading.”
David Kimball, a social studies teacher at Geneva Middle School North, said he and his sons immediately embraced the idea and donated the first $2,000 to the memorial fund.
“I was just overwhelmed with the amount of support that I received – not only from my students, but the parents and community as a whole – embracing my wife’s memory and wanting to do so much to memorialize her,” Kimball said. “She loved everything about learning and the kids. And she loved the town of Geneva. ... She was a wonderful woman and she touched a lot of lives.”
Kimball said his wife originally was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that occurs in the bone marrow seven years ago, and then she also developed breast cancer.
“She had gone on a new chemotherapy because the cancer became more active,” Kimball said. “The chemo for the cancer compromised her immune system, lowered he white blood count. She got influenza, a virus. She was working at school the Friday before she passed away in the ICU at Central DuPage.”
Kimball said he was especially touched that the goal was to name a space or a room after his wife at the new library because she so looked forward to it opening.
“Two weeks before she passed away, we drove past the building site and she was so excited to see it,” Kimball said. “She was retiring this year and was thinking about volunteering there and helping out.”
Donations can be made to the Gigi Kimball New Library Memorial Fund at glf.kindful.com.