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In memoriam: Robert Kimbrough fought ‘the good fight’

Robert Kimbrough and his wife Phyllis Rose. (Photo by Brent Nicastro)

Freethought Today learned belatedly that FFRF friend, Life Member and octogenarian Robert Kimbrough died on June 3, 2019, at a care facility in Madison, Wis. Robert was born on June 26, 1929.

A professor of Shakespeare at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he wrote the book, Shakespeare and the Art of Humankindness (1990). He had joined the Marine Corps to “prove myself a man by fighting for my country and for the United Nations,” he told the Wisconsin State Journal in 2008. In Korea, he was hit three times and felled by a concussion grenade, but kept going back to his unit. “In the end, the experience soured him on war as a vehicle for change,” noted reporter William Wineke. Robert received four Purple Heart awards and a Silver Star for combat valor, retiring from the reserves as a full colonel.

Robert told the Journal, “Our war was a phony thing, but people got killed and wounded. War is not the way to settle anything internationally. It’s a crude way of getting your own way.” He later became active with Vets for Peace.

An earlier write-up by John Aehl in the Wisconsin State Journal (Sept. 1, 1996), had this to say: “No doubt about it, Robert Kimbrough has been a bit of a troublemaker in his time. The visual impression of Kimbrough is of a placid, ingenuous, mild-mannered academic. . . . The reality is that Kimbrough has fought, and continues to fight, the good fight for what would generally be termed minority causes, things and issues that he, when pressed, probably would term thinking man’s causes.”

These causes included the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Women’s Medical Fund.

Robert acted and directed at the Madison Theater Guild, American Players Theater and his own Honest Puck Productions. He directed and narrated a play about the Rosenbergs.

“I was lucky to have him as my 

Shakespeare professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison,” notes FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor, “because he was a bit of a ham who brought the plays to life.” After his beloved daughter Lisa Kimbrough died at 54 in 2011 from brain cancer in her home in Kathmandu, Nepal, Robert’s health declined. He is survived by other children Bob and John Kimbrough, and Lisa’s children Rajan and Asha. He married Phyllis Rose in 1977.