Debra Lynn Kimbell
Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Longtime Trinity staff member Debra Lynn Kimbell died on April 9, 2019 at the age of 69. Kimbell joined the Trinity University staff in 1977 and served as building supervisor for the Coates Student (then-University) Center until she retired in June 2006.

portrait of debra lynn kimbell

The Coates Center is a major gathering place for students and the site of numerous campus events, and Kimbell had a direct hand in most of the activities that took place there. She worked tirelessly with University constituents and the public to ensure the facilities they used met their needs, and Margaret Farris, former coordinator of student organizations, explained that Kimbell was “a friendly face to students and Trinity employees alike.” The many students she hired and trained as student managers and Tiger’s Den staff modeled her strong work ethic and attention to detail. Active in the life of the University, Kimbell was the intramural co-rec racquetball doubles champion in 2000-2001. She also served on several University committees and was honored with the Helen Heare McKinley Award for Employee Excellence in 2005. In retirement, Kimbell enjoyed cheering for the Spurs, gardening, and volunteering at the Kirby Senior Center, where she was Volunteer of the Year in 2013.

Kimbell is widely remembered by Trinity faculty, staff, and former students as the warm, welcoming face of the Coates Center. Coleen Grissom, English professor and former vice president of Student Affairs—whose responsibilities included the Coates Center—said, “Debra was admired, loved, and valued during her years at Trinity University. For many first-comers to the campus, the first stop for directions and information was the Coates University Center, where Debra’s beautiful face and warm smile welcomed them to campus. During my years in Student Affairs, I considered her among the most committed staff members who represented the best of Trinity.” 

Karen Risley, former assistant to the vice president for Enrollment and Student Retention, said, “Above all, Debra remained a loyal and trustworthy friend to me. She took extreme care in her position ensuring any visitor from on- or off-campus received a warm welcome and that their needs were met. She always shunned the spotlight but showered praise on the many student assistants she employed throughout her nearly 30 years at Trinity.”

Beyond the University community, Kimbell was a beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend. The unmatched courage, strength, and dignity she exhibited throughout her battle with cancer was an inspiration to all those around her, and she will be deeply missed.

Kimbell is survived by her husband of 35 years, Keith Kimbell; daughter Amie Saxon (husband Mark); sister Kathy Stephens-Arnold; grandchildren Hunter and Shyloh; and nephew Tyson (wife Lindsey). A memorial service will be held at Sunset Funeral Home Chapel on Tuesday, April 23, at 3 p.m. Those wishing to make a memorial gift can make them to the American Cancer Society at

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