Thanks to a promise to a friend nearly four decades ago, Dick Kimball found himself serving on the Papillion Civil Service Commission.
Thirty-seven years later, Kimball held true to that promise and was a vital cog in serving his city.
Kimball recently announced his retirement from the Civil Service Commission. He was honored during the Sept. 17 Papillion City Council meeting.
He admitted he had no visions of joining the commission years ago, but a series of events led him in that direction.
“Mike Greco was mayor at the time,” Kimball said. “Ray Scott was a friend of mine who was on the Civil Service Commission and Mike wanted to appoint Ray to the City Council. Mike had me talk to Ray to try and convince him to join the council.
“Well, Ray said he couldn’t join the council because it would be a conflict of interest being on the Civil Service Commission. But he said if I agreed to take his spot on the commission, he would join the council. So 13 months later, he’s off the council and 37 years later, I’m still here.”
Those 37 years provided Kimball with more satisfaction than he ever could have imagined.
“I know they appreciated having me, but it was a privilege for me to be able to do it,” he said.
The Civil Service Commission is put in place to help select candidates for police and fire departments. They sort through the pool of candidates, go through testing and an interview process and eventually provide the department with their top three candidates.
During his tenure, which is 30 years longer than any other current commission member, Kimball oversaw the hiring of five police chiefs, two fire chiefs and countless members of both departments.
“This is an important process and it’s unique because it’s just plain old citizens handling the process,” Kimball said. “I never looked at it as an obligation, I viewed it as a privilege. I always felt that way.”
Kimball said the greatest satisfaction came from seeing so many outstanding individuals fill vital roles in the city.
“We worked with outstanding people and a lot of quality candidates,” Kimball said. “You could really see the cream rise to the top through the interview process. I was fortunate to be a part of that process and the city is lucky to have had such wonderful representatives.”
As a resident of Papillion for 50 years, Kimball’s contributions extended well beyond serving on the Civil Service Commission. He was heavily involved with American Legion Post 32 and helped run the Legion baseball operation. He also played a major role with the Papillion Chamber of Commerce and even helped found the Sarpy Serenaders singing group in 1987.
He’s seen Papillion emerge as a thriving community during that span, but he’s also proud of the fact the city has clung to what makes it strong.
“You see continued growth and it’s been all positive,” he said. “What’s made Papillion unique is the way much of the community has centered around youth activities. And what they’ve been able to do with the downtown area is amazing. That’s what has helped keep that small-town feel.”
With both he and his wife dealing with some health issues, Kimball believed this was the right time to step away from the Commission. His spot will be filled by the former city attorney, Karla Rupiper.
But while his long tenure has reached its end, Kimball does not see himself backing away from continuing to help serve.
“I don’t feel as though I’m retiring because that will always be part of my fiber,” he said. “I see how many of the people we hired are still contributing and I think we raised the standard for all applicants.”