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Fond farewells bid to Jill Kinmont Boothe

February 20, 2012

In this photo from 2006, Jill Kinmont Boothe shows the painting she donated to a raffle to benefit the students at, appropriately enough, Jill Kinmont Boothe School, in Bishop. The painting is called “Sierra Range in Winter.” Photo submitted

Friends, family members and myriad admirers of Jill Kinmont Boothe are offering their final farewells this weekend to the woman whose actions, words and example inspired countless around the globe.
Born Feb. 16, 1936 to Bill Kinmont and June Haines Kinmont, Boothe passed away Feb. 9 at the age of 75 at Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center in Carson City, Nev.
Boothe will be laid to rest at the East Line Street Cemetery today at 11 a.m. during funeral services officiated by the Rev. Caddy Jackson. A reception will follow the service at the Home Economics Building at the Tri-County Fairgrounds.
Although born in North Hollywood, Boothe a attended and graduated high school in Bishop, competing on the school’s ski team.
Boothe was a promising athlete – an Olympic hopeful – until a tragic accident left her paralysed in 1955.
In the years following the accident, Boothe went on to become a well-loved and respected educator, a talented artist and inspirational friend to many.
Her true story inspired two movies and a number of books.
Her death, as did her life, has touched thousands.
The following are some comments that friends and admirers from across the globe have submitted in the past week in memory of Jill Kinmont Boothe.
“Although we live a long ways north, in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada, we were among the many that were huge fans of Jill and John Kinmont Boothe for their inspiring story of love, strength and courage,” wrote Ron and Shelley Stewart. “We wish to extend Bishop and surrounding areas our deepest heartfelt sympathies on the passing of one of its leading citizens. Jill indeed did encourage a lot of people and she will be greatly missed.”
Frank Cooke of Springfield, Ill. said that he had never met Boothe, but, like so many others, was touched when he learned about her story.
“In 2000 I wrote to her asking for an update of the lives of the personalities who appeared in ‘The Other Side of the Mountain,’” Cooke wrote. “In her own hand, she replied with the whereabouts of all the players. Considering her celebrity status and so many higher priorities in her life, I was very impressed and appreciative. With her passing, I wanted all interested parties to know that her treatment of my interest in her was very unusual.”
Bishop resident Tina Slee was fortunate enough to have a personal relationship with Boothe, and said that Boothe’s cheer and optimism is something she will never forget.
“For years, the highlight of my week has been going to Jill’s house for our weekly ‘therapy’ sessions that consisted mainly of me talking her ear off while I massaged her neck and shoulders,” Slee wrote. “Poor Jill, it couldn’t have been that relaxing for her with me yapping away and my 2-year-old running amuck at her heels. But she was always happy to see us and would ask, ‘What’s the news this week?’ I wish I could tell her now that those visits with her were my therapy. No matter what kind of a day I was having before, talking and laughing with her and John always made it the best day of my week.
“I loved watching her paint in the studio, and was so excited when she wanted to paint a couple of my photos … Of course, the greatest honor is being able to call her and John my good friends.
“I have realized that although I will miss Jill every day, and will be heartsick for some time, I am comforted knowing I can carry her spirit with me in all of the things I love to do. Every time I paint, take a photo or watch the birds, I will be happy knowing her spirit was with me. She has been my greatest inspiration.”
Slee also wanted to extend her love to John Boothe and said she will continue to visit him weekly.
Yosemite resident Linda Logeland said she was 7 or 8 years old the only time she met Jill.
As a girl, Logeland said she lived across the street from Boothe’s cousin, Bill Lambkin, and her aunt later became her elementary school teacher in Yosemite.
Logeland said she remembers the day she learned of Boothe’s accident.
“We all skied, and knew what a great skier she was,” she said. “At some point Mrs. Lambkin told us that her niece would be unable to walk and her wish was to have a baby-blue wheel chair. Our class – maybe the whole school – raised money to help her get her wish, and I remember signing a card to give her with all our signatures on it. It affected all of us …
“She has always been a heroine to me – I too became a teacher, and I still love to ski. I feel grateful to have been marginally connected to someone who lived her life so fully, after being derailed at such a young age. I wish I had met her as an adult.”
Will Reid, a resident of Waterloo, Iowa, also wrote in upon hearing of Boothe’s passing.
Reid said he had previously created a YouTube.com video slideshow featuring photos of Boothe throughout her life, and was watching it this week “as I deal with my sadness after hearing about her death.
“Today as I searched the Internet to verify what I had heard, I saw on a website about the Sierra where in announcing Jill’s death, they said something like, ‘and her life touched even those who knew her briefly.’ How very true.”
Reid’s video may be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWCapLhG8cw.

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