Terri Kimball had a quick mind, high standards and a big, big heart.
Never one to shy away from hard work or a good fight, she spent much of her career advocating for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
In recent years, she became a driving force to create a residential recovery program for prostituted youth in Seattle and helped develop a statewide protocol for police, prosecutors and service providers to ensure communities have a plan in place to rescue girls from the sex trade and help them heal.
Mrs. Kimball died Saturday at her home in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood
from metastatic breast cancer. She was 64.
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“Terri was an incredibly classy woman,” said Seattle City Council President Tim Burgess. “She was very poised, very articulate, kind and considerate. But oh my, you get in her cross hairs, you better start running.”
On May 5, Burgess read aloud a proclamation before the City Council, recognizing Mrs. Kimball’s many contributions to the city during her 32-year career and establishing June 1 as Terri Kimball Appreciation Day in Seattle.
Teresa Jean Greer was born May 1, 1950, in Iowa City, Iowa. Her father, George Greer Jr., a Navy instructor, and her mother, Ellen Myers Greer, a secretary, divorced a couple years later and Mrs. Kimball and her elder sister were sent to live with their maternal grandparents in Syracuse, N.Y., said her husband, Doug Kimball.
The sisters moved to San Mateo, Calif., in 1956 to live with their mother before Mrs. Kimball moved to Bellevue to live with her father in 1965. She graduated from Newport High School in 1968.
During her senior year, Mrs. Kimball attended a party in Bellevue and locked onto the man who would become her husband: “She stalked me. I didn’t want anything to do with a high-school senior, but she told her friends I was the one and she pursued me,” said Doug Kimball, a retired high-school English teacher.
He finally relented and the couple started dating that summer: “She was so vivacious and fun and was always up for anything. And she loved me dearly.”
They married in March 1969, when she was 18 and he was 21. He graduated that spring from the University of Washington and was drafted into the Army soon after. He returned from Vietnam on his wife’s 21st birthday.
She graduated from the University of Washington, with a bachelor’s degree in nutrition science in 1975, followed by her master’s degree in 1982.
Except for a five-year stint working as an investigator for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Mrs. Kimball worked in a variety of positions for Public Health — Seattle & King County from about 1982 to 1995.
She spent the next four years, 1996 to 2000, as the deputy director and acting CEO of Senior Services, the state’s largest, multiservice nonprofit agency serving older adults.
In late 2001, Mrs. Kimball took over as executive director of Domestic Abuse Women’s Network (DAWN), a struggling nonprofit in Tukwila serving battered women and their children. Turning the agency around “was one of her proudest achievements,” said her husband.
In fall 2006, Mrs. Kimball became the director of the domestic violence and sexual-assault prevention division within the city of Seattle’s Department of Human Services.
“Terri does not suffer fools. She was not ever going to work anyplace where her passion and values” weren’t reflected, said the department’s former director, Patricia McInturff.
She said Mrs. Kimball was responsible for planning a “family justice center,” kind of a one-stop shop where victims of domestic violence can file a police report, get a no-contact order and speak with an advocate.
When the recession hit, funding for the center dried up — but before her death, Mrs. Kimball briefed then-mayoral candidate Ed Murray about the plan and he incorporated it into his list of campaign goals, McInturff said.
While working for the city, Mrs. Kimball commissioned a report by cultural anthropologist Debra Boyer, who in 2008 conservatively estimated that 300 to 500 teenage girls were forced to work as prostitutes on any given night in King County.
Mrs. Kimball — who later worked for the Center for Child and Youth Justice, founded by retired state Supreme Court Justice Bobbe Bridge — was among the first in the city to push for ways to help girls escape the sex trade.
She also helped create The Bridge, one of only a handful of residential recovery programs for prostituted youth in the country.
“She was determined, steady, persistent and very effective in bringing people together and getting the issue in front of policymakers,” said King County Superior Court Judge Sean O’Donnell, who met Mrs. Kimball as a senior deputy prosecutor responsible for prosecuting pimps.
Melinda Giovengo, the executive director of YouthCare, which runs The Bridge, said Mrs. Kimball put the issue of sex-trafficking “on the map when no one was looking.”
“There was no gray for Terri: You don’t beat women and you don’t buy and sell children,” Giovengo said. “She was like a bull terrier in her nice little sweater set. When she locked on, there was no letting go.
“We’ve lost a major, major soldier in this fight,” she said.
A memorial is being planned for June 1 at the University of Washington.
In addition to her husband, Mrs. Kimball is survived by her sister, Sheila Greer, of San Diego; her daughter Lindsay Ladenburg of Houston; and her twin granddaughters, Ella and Reese.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Mrs. Kimball’s name to YouthCare, 2500 N.E. 54th St., Seattle, WA 98105; or to Stolen Youth, P.O. Box 296, Seattle, WA 98111.
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or firstname.lastname@example.org