Less Kimber
Less Kimber (1934-2015)

Fresno (CBM) – Mr. Lesly “Les” H. Kimber, 80, of Fresno, California passed away on Saturday, January 10, 2015. Born in Boonville, North Carolina on August 13, 1934 into a share-cropping family, he moved to Atlanta, Georgia to attend Morehouse College.

In 1959 he graduated from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., majoring in Accounting and Business Administration.

After moving to Fresno, California in 1966, Kimber was an active and respected businessman and community leader at the local, regional and national levels. In 1967, Kimber became the first African American Criminal Investigator for the Fresno County Public Defender’s Office.

Kimber, founder and publisher of the California Advocate Newspaper, with wife Pauline, garnered several industry awards over the years, including the 1975 ACLU Civil Liberties Award of Northern California, Fresno chapter.

He was also the president of Kimber, Kimber & Associates, a national marketing firm which he ran with his son Mark Kimber. The business develops media buys for over 200 African American newspapers across the nation.

The California Advocate Newspaper, the “Black Press of the San Joaquin Valley,” has served as a source for the African American community politically, socially, economically and brought to attention the violation of individual rights.

In 1972, when the Kimber’s ran in to difficulty getting the California Advocate printed by a local printer, Kimber, along with Woody Miller, Stafford Parker, Joe Toney and Frank Rivas purchased a printing press and established Central Valley Printing Company which was the first African American owned and operated printing company in the San Joaquin Valley. Kimber, a founding member of the West Coast Black Publishers Association, also served as its president.

While campaigning as city councilman, long-time friend and activist Cesar Chavez said of Kimber, “We know that in supporting you, the voters of Fresno will be backing a man of proven ability and concern for poor and working peoples.”

“The Black Press has lost a fine publisher, and even greater ally in Les Kimber. He was a pioneer in creating a stable advertisement based business model in order for our publications to extend their reach into the ever-growing African-American community. He provided leadership in our industry as President of the West Coast Black Publishers association and will be deeply missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and the Fresno community, which he loved,” said Hardy Brown founder of California Black Media.

Kimber was elected to the Fresno City Council in 1983, becoming the first African American elected official to represent West Fresno. He served two four-year terms on the Council where he served as Mayor Pro Tem under the administration of former Mayor Karen Humphrey.

As the former representative of District 3, Kimber and the City Council established the Human Relations Committee and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday as a city holiday.

While on the City Council, Kimber initiated many important policies that included the annual free garbage pick-up for city residents, which is still in force today. He was also instrumental in acquiring the site for the West Fresno location of the Kearney Palms Shopping Center.

Kimber was a dedicated activist for civil rights and economic advancement through personal efforts and through many organizations including:

• KFSN TV-30 Minority Advisory Committee which was instrumental in hiring the first African American TV reporter in Fresno.
• King of Kings Housing Development Corporation, Executive Director
• La Voz Magazine, Publisher
• United Black Men of Fresno, Founder
• West Fresno Ministerial Alliance, Founder
• Fresno Free College Foundation, Board Member
• Black Political Council, Board Member
• Martin Luther King Square Housing Development, Former Executive Director
• St. Rest Baptist Church, Deacon and Member

Last month, the Kimber’s celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary together. They have four children, Terri Edwards, Mark Kimber, Jackie Nelson and Duane Goldberg and four grandchildren.

The wake will be on Friday, January 16, 2015 at 6 p.m. at Cooley’s Funeral Home, 1830 South Fruit Avenue, Fresno, CA 93706. A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, January 17, 2015 at 10 a.m. at St. Rest Baptist Church, 1550 East Rev. Chester Riggins Avenue, Fresno, CA 93706.

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