Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Letter to the Editor

Thank you Kimball


To the Good People of Kimball,

This past Thursday, a sizable number of out-of-towners visited your town to attend the funeral of our family member (niece, cousin, god daughter, …) Erin Aerni. As Pastor Boltjes noted to the attendees during the service, it felt like the entire town of Kimball was grieving with us, supporting us, welcoming us, consoling us, and celebrating a life-cut-too-short with us.

Family came from Kentucky, Indiana, Texas, one – who was in the states from Japan – was able to make it, and that is just the Zuehlke side. I am sure plenty from the Nickle, Aerni, and other branches of Erin and Ross’ extended family were there too. The support for Ross and his little ones, the celebration of Erin’s contributions to the community – as instructor, and in their faith community…it was heart-warming, not just for the gestures but for their genuine-ness.

Many of us are relocated to where we now live, but our roots are in several communities in Nebraska. We well remember our upbringing, in the 50s, 60s and even 70s – and how Kimball treated us this past week is how we treated our neighbors, friends and family back then….with sincerity, demonstrated compassion, roll-up-your sleeves help, regardless of what else may be on our day’s ToDo list

Kimball has such an outstanding sense of Community to it – I hope all generations there know how very special is the place you call home. Home…that place where you care for those around you, and they care about you…not just in word, but in thought, and in deed. Communities expand ‘home’ just a bit – including not just direct relations, but those people with whom you share living and socializing public spaces, services, and schools. Kimball, this past Thursday even went a step beyond. Not only supporting Ross and his Kimball families (Erins’ sisters Annie and Jill and their families), but also the more extended family. You embraced us, and you touched our hearts…hearts that were aching for Erin, for Ross and his kids, but were made to feel better by the outpouring of compassion. The fact that the funeral service had to be held in the high school auditorium, and the reception after at the 4-H hall, well-stocked with wonderful food, and the overflow room with extra tables which needed to be set-up, spoke to us of the support of the community. Thank you, Thank You, from the bottoms of our broken hearts, Thank You.

In so very many ways I have tried to extol the community values and experiences as I’ve traveled the globe, and, on behalf of Barb (Nickle, mom of victim, and youngest sister of our group) – we have all done the same. Nebraska is an AWESOME state, made awesome by the people that live there. Last Thursday, Kimball was (and I am sure is daily) a Shining example of the best qualities of being from that great state, and of solid mid-west values. Be so very proud of your community. It now lives fondly in our hearts.

Steven D. Zuehlke


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