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Notes from the Old Noank Jail: A fond farewell to Matt Kimball

We recently lost someone who was a staple of Noank life: conspicuous for his love of village children, gregariousness at Carson’s, and golf cart antics.

Matt (actually, his first name was “Learned”) Kimball, a Navy veteran, was a founding member of the Noank-Mystic Band as a clarinetist. Later he became watchman at the Noank Historical Society’s Latham-Chester Store, living in the second story apartment at the base of Store Hill. Matt was a constant presence at Town Dock, teaching young children how to fish and crab. After suffering a major stroke, he continued his neighborly duties despite paralysis and aphasia.

Karen Dole and Nancy Codeanne spearheaded community efforts to support Matt with independent life. Locals raised funds to acquire a golf cart that became his Noank chariot. Over the years, he became so embedded in village life that he was featured driving his golf cart in a painting of Noank in 2015. Thus, we decided that comments by Noankers about this legendary character would be a fitting tribute.

“Matt was a special man who had a difficult life — though he could say but a few words, he could express himself well. I will miss him.”

“When I think of Matt Kimball, I think of ‘the Dock’...the real place where we all grew up. I think about him teaching us patience...how to listen to the water...and how to string the nasty worms and raw chicken on our hooks at the end of our crabbing strings. After Matty had his stroke, Noank rallied as always and made sure he was taken care of for the rest of his life.”

“So missed he is. Years ago he befriended my cat who visited him every day. Usually I received a call from Matt when it was dark. He could speak no words by that time, of course, but I knew it was him and he had such love to share. When I went for the cat, she would be all curled up on his lap.”

“Such a lovely and empathetic man with a heart of gold. When I first arrived in Noank in the summer of 2001 I quickly saw that Matt ran the best daycare operation at the town dock every day! I’d go walking by with my dog and he’d be overseeing 20-30 kids…”

“I would get calls sometimes if local author Steve Jones thought Matt needed help or hadn’t been seen recently. Usually, this involved the golf cart battery running down and Matt being stranded somewhere in Noank. We had a little ritual...I would arrive, yell at Matt for being a pain in the (neck), and threaten to call the police. He would just smile, then laugh his head off and then swear at me. Yes, he was actually able to remember and speak certain words....apparently learned in the Navy.”

“A gentle soul with a giant sense of humor. He was a masterful chess player in the 90’s. I’m sad that he’s gone but relieved that he’s free of suffering. I’d like to think he’s talking up a storm as he enjoys rounds of speed chess on the other side. RIP”

Ed Johnson and his daughter Lacy live in Noank.

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