Jean Pham Kimberlin, 88, of Winter Haven, Florida, passed away peacefully on July 23, 2023, after a long illness. Her husband and two children were with her in her final days.
Jean was born on December 1, 1934, in Thai Binh, Vietnam. She met her husband, Ralph Kimberlin, in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), in 1964, when Ralph was visiting the country to test the AC-47 aircraft. A friend of Ralph’s who had been in Vietnam set them up on a date, and Ralph claims it was love-at-first-sight when he met her. After an in-person courtship and then a long-distance romance carried out over love letters, Ralph and Jean married in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, in 1965. They remained married for 58 years until her passing.
Jean led an extraordinary life in Vietnam in her 20s. She participated in a regional singing troupe and also was part of the delegation welcoming entertainer Bob Hope in his first tour to Vietnam. In addition, Jean worked as a hair stylist and beautician. She enjoyed creating the hairstyles of that period for local women as well as for the spouses of visiting dignitaries.
Upon arriving in the U.S., Jean committed herself to supporting her husband and then raising their two children, becoming a stay-at-home mom. She also devoted her time to helping other Vietnamese immigrants with their settlement in the U.S.
Jean loved to garden, knit, fish, and cook, and she excelled in these passions. She was an extrovert who loved to laugh, sing, and especially dance. Music brought her particular joy, and songs from The Beatles were lifelong favorites.
Jean survived a difficult childhood, having been separated from many members of her family at a young age due to Japanese occupation of Vietnam during World War II. Those hardships made her a strong and fiercely independent woman, who could accomplish any task she set her mind to. But the childhood trauma and stigma surrounding care for mental health resulted in challenges for her later in life. Regardless, her steadfast love for her family and zeal for music, dancing, and laughter shined through, and Jean will forever be remembered by her family for the joy and love she radiated.
Jean is survived by her husband, Ralph Kimberlin of Winter Haven, FL; her son, Tony (Hadley) Kimberlin of Alexandria, VA; daughter, Lisa Kimberlin of San Francisco, CA; and three grandchildren, Jenna, Thomas, and Marissa.
A memorial service will be held at Beacon Hill Fellowship in Lakeland, FL, on Saturday, August 19, 2023, at 2:00 pm, followed by a reception. In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes charitable donations to support research for mental health disorders. They may be sent to the following:
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 6229A, MSC 9655
Bethesda, MD 20892-9655
Please note it is a memorial donation for Jean Kimberlin.