Ernest Robbins Kimball Was Pioneering Physician

Ernest Robbins Kimball, M.D., a pediatrician and pioneer in the scientific documentation of the medical and psychological benefits of breastfeeding, died on Dec. 27 of complications resulting from aplastic anemia. He was 93.

Born in Arlington and for many years a summer resident of Edgartown, Dr. Kimball was a respected pediatrician and writer as well as a loving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and a special friend to children.

He was graduated from Harvard University in 1931 and received his medical degree from Yale Medical School in 1936, completing his residency in Cleveland, Ohio.

During World War II, Dr. Kimball became a commanding officer as a research pathologist with the First Medical Laboratory, traveling just behind the front lines from North Africa in 1942 to the European Theatre. A week after VE Day in 1945, he was assigned to the Dachau death camp in Germany and became the commanding officer. Dr. Kimball and his men tried to provide comfort to the death camp survivors.

Dr. Kimball was amazed at the vitality of the young babies throughout ravaged Europe, noting while their emaciated mothers were suffering from malnutrition, their breast-fed babies were relatively healthy. When he returned to the United States, he settled in Evanston and Glenview, Ill., Martha's Vineyard and later retired to Jacksonville with his wife of 61 years, Alicia Barber Kimball, who died in Jacksonville on March 15, 2002.

Dr. Kimball began his private medical practice in Evanston. He was associate professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago and was on the staff of Children's Memorial, St. Francis and Evanston Hospitals for more than 20 years, donating one day per week at the Infant Welfare Agency of Chicago.

While practicing in the Chicago area, Dr. Kimball helped found the Evanston Hospital Breast Milk Bank, which was taken over as a Junior League project and was soon in touch with the founding mothers of La Leche League International as one of the group's two medical advisors. Dr. Kimball received the Founder's Award from La Leche League in 1997, only the fourth International Award given in 40 years. He also received La Leche's Excellence Award in 1991.

In 1968, Dr. Kimball and his wife founded a not-for-profit ranch for physical and recreational therapy and lifetime residency in Zion, Ariz., for children with mental and physical disabilities.

He is survived by his daughter, Alicia Wilson Kimball of Jacksonville Beach and Chicago; his sons, Ernest Robbins Kimball 3rd, M.D., of Jacksonville Beach and, David Custis Kimball of Boca Raton, Fla.; eight grandchildren, Gilbert Valentine of Chicago, David Valentine of New York city, Ernest Robbins Kimball 4th of Jacksonville, Timothy Kimball of Jacksonville, Jonathon Kimball of Jacksonville and Michael Kimball of Jacksonville; Elizabeth Kimball of Boca Raton and Henry David Kimball of Boca Raton, and a great-grandson, Gilbert Robbins (Chip) Valentine of Chicago.

A private family memorial service will be held in the chapel of Christ Episcopal Church in Ponte Vedra, Fla., on Jan. 11. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to Christ Episcopal Church, the Easy-K Foundation (disability), La Leche League of Jacksonville or La Leche League International in Schaumburg, Ill.

Arrangements are by the Quinn-Shalz Family Funeral home and Cremation Center in Jacksonville Beach.