Gary Niles Kimble, born January 3, 1942 in Fort Belknap, MT, died recently in Washington DC at the Veterans Hospital on July 30, 2022. His parents were Ceciliani Stiffarm Kimble and his father was Aubrey Elwood Kimble. He had two brothers that preceded Gary in death, Raymond Elwood and Aubrey Leon. Gary was a proud enrolled member of the Gros Ventre (The White Clay People-A’aninin) tribe.
Gary was a renowned administrator both nationally and locally and was retired since 2000 as the Director of the Tribal Child Support Enforcement Program at the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, DC. He held this position for eleven years. Prior to that, Gary was nominated by President Clinton and confirmed by the US Senate in October 1994 as the Commissioner of the Administration for Native Americans. Prior to this Gary was the first American Indian to be the Executive Director of The Association of American Indian Affairs in New York City, NY, from 1988 to 1993. Before 1988, Gary was a Professor of Law at Northwest School of Law at the Lewis and Clark College in Portland, OR.
Gary completed a Journalism degree in 1966 from The University of Montana. The day after graduation Gary was drafted in the US Army and served as a Journalist with the 4th Infantry Division in Pleiku, Vietnam and received an Army Commendation for Outstanding Service during 1967-68. After Vietnam, Gary worked at the Seattle Boeing Aircraft Co. as a Technical Journalist. Gary found a new love of Missoula and he eventually came back as he applied to UM Law School and was accepted and graduated in the spring of 1972. At the same time Gary ran in the Primary Election for the House of Representatives and was elected in the fall for the House of Representatives and was reelected for three, two year terms. He concentrated on labor and employment relations, environmental matters, and public health and welfare issues. At this time Gary was General Counsel to the Fort Belknap Indian Community Council and was Counsel to the Paper Worker Union in Missoula from 1974 to 1979. Gary was also Assistant Professor of Native American Studies at the University of Montana.
He also ran for an unsuccessful bid for Congress in the 1st District on Montana. This political career was inspired by the late James Welch’s book, “The Indian Lawyer” who by the way was a fellow tribesman and good friend of Gary. Yet, because Gary was known nationally, in 1979 he was appointed Counsel to The Indian Affairs Committee in the US Senate and was appointed Director of the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission in Portland and served from 1979 to 1982. The drive to return home was strong and Gary was appointed as Counsel to the Governor of Montana as the Coordinator of Indian Affairs Office in Helena from 1983-1985. During most of that period, he also was chairman of the board of directors for the Missoula Indian Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program.
During the 100th anniversary of the founding of the University of Montana, Gary received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1993 for his accomplishments.
Gary owes his credit to his tribe, his family, and the schools that he attended, as he attended grade school in both Butte and Elliston, MT and finishing his high school degree in Deer Lodge, MT. His time at the University of Montana was priceless and many will remember him as a scholar and true friend.
A public memorial service will be held at the Fort Belknap Community Center at noon at 656 Agency Main Street at Fort Belknap, Montana, on Friday, September 2, 2022. Interment services will be held at the Phillipsburg, MT cemetery at noon on Saturday, September 3, 2022.
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