Kimmell family, VU honor former Vincennes mayor with scholarship and historical marker

Kimmell family, VU honor former Vincennes mayor with scholarship and historical marker

Photo of Kimmell Park and Wabash River

August 11, 2022

VINCENNES, Ind. - Kimmell Park is a place many people know and have visited as a go-to spot for fishing, picnicking, walking, playing, and other recreational fun within a stone’s throw of Vincennes University. The park is named for Joseph W. Kimmell, the former mayor of Vincennes. Vincennes University and the family of the historic park’s namesake are paying homage to the outstanding luminary in a remarkable fashion.

Former Vincennes Mayor Joseph Kimmell
 Joseph Kimmell

A special historical marker is being erected this week near the park's limestone shelter house in recognition of Joseph Kimmell and his contributions toward the construction of the popular park that attracts families from southwest Indiana and neighboring Illinois. In coordination with the installation, the Kimmell family has made an extraordinary announcement.

The Kimmell family has established an endowed scholarship in honor of their grandfather, who served as Vincennes mayor from 1929-1938.

The scholarship keeps the memory of Joseph Kimmell alive while contributing to the education of future leaders. The scholarship is for a student who attends VU for the first two years, then earns a bachelor’s degree at VU or another accredited university.

It is a full-ride scholarship that will cover the cost of attendance, after financial aid is applied for up to four years, for a student pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

Joe and Karen Kimmell, (L), and Deborah Kimmell Hisle

In announcing the establishment of the Joseph Kimmell Memorial Scholarship, Joseph Kimmell’s grandson, Joe Kimmell, and granddaughter, Deborah Kimmell Hisle, stated, “Throughout our grandfather’s career, the causes most dear to him were the City of Vincennes, Vincennes University, education and helping those most in need. It is our hope that this scholarship program will offer needed financial assistance to students from Vincennes and the surrounding area who are seeking to further their education, and serve as a lasting tribute to our grandfather’s ideals and memory."

VU President Dr. Chuck Johnson expressed his gratitude for the continued generosity of the Kimmell Family. 

"The Kimmell name has been nearly synonymous with Vincennes University for the better part of a century,” Johnson said. “We are proud to be able to honor Mayor Kimmell's many contributions to VU and the community, and we are humbled to receive such generous support from his many descendants and family that will have such a positive impact on the lives of future generations of VU students. Both are tremendous tributes to the legacy of Joseph Kimmell."

Mayor Kimmell distinguished himself as a community leader. He served as mayor during the Great Depression. He procured funds from the Works Progress Administration (WPA) for the construction of Kimmell Park in addition to the structures and bandshell at Gregg Park, Inman Football Field Stadium, and Rainbow Beach Community Swimming Pool. Kimmell Park and Gregg Park are on the National Register of Historic Places. He was a recipient in 1957 of the VU Alumni Association’s highest award, the Walter A. Davis Citation. The award is presented annually to a VU alumnus or a resident of the greater VU Community. This award recognizes individuals for their civic leadership, professional achievements, and above all outstanding community contributions.

Kimmell Park is located between Oliphant Drive and the Wabash River, beginning at the intersection of St. Clair Street on the south and ending at the University’s baseball complex on the north. The park offers gorgeous, panoramic views of the river. A riverfront walking and bicycle path connect it to downtown and the George Rogers Clark National Historical Park.

Kimmell Park has seen magnificent changes in recent years.

To revitalize the park and capitalize on the riverfront, the City of Vincennes, Vincennes Parks Board, and VU worked cooperatively in 2015, with all parties agreeing to transfer ownership of the 8.5-acre Kimmell Park and its 54-acre woodlands to its neighbor, VU, with covenants to ensure that the property remains a public park. VU pledged to lead efforts to make significant improvements and enhance security using its VU Police Department. A grand opening and ribbon cutting were held in 2017, with two of Joseph Kimmell’s great-grandsons and a great-great-grandson in attendance, to celebrate the completion of more than $3 million in park renovations. In 2019, the VU Community Playground in the park officially opened. The playground was funded through a community effort and state grant and features expression swings, which promote intergenerational play.

Vincennes University and the Vincennes University Foundation annually award more than $1.0 million in scholarships and grants to assist students in reaching their educational goals. LEARN MORE