Rev. Jeffrey K. Kimpel; 1946-2014: Pastor known for empathy and humility


The Rev. Jeffrey K. Kimpel, a Lutheran pastor in northwest Ohio and Michigan known for his empathy, intellect, and common touch, died Wednesday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township. He was 67.

He was ill for about three weeks, his brother, Dan, said.

Pastor Kimpel retired in January, 2009. He’d been pastor of Zion Lutheran Church on Pemberville Road in Lake Township since January, 1996.

After ordination, he became pastor of St. John Lutheran Church, Rocky Ridge, Ohio, in 1972. He was installed in 1977 as associate pastor of St. Mark Lutheran in East Toledo and in 1979 became pastor of St. John’s Lutheran in Fowlerville, Mich.

In 1987, he returned to his native Lima, Ohio, to became pastor of St. Luke’s Lutheran.

“He had the ability to connect with people,” said the Rev. Lindsay Shaner, pastor of Hope Lutheran Church in Hamler, Ohio, who knew him since they were undergraduates at Wittenberg University.

“He was down to earth. I don’t think he put on airs at all. [He was] just being a good parish pastor,” Pastor Shaner said. “It was a matter of sharing the faith — nothing new and fancy — a faith he grew up with and was instilled in him by his parents.”

Pastor Kimpel was more focused on church members, one by one, “than on any sort of administrative hierarchy,” his brother said.

“He made immeasurable amounts of calls to hospitals and nursing homes. He didn’t like to go on vacation and leave his congregation,” his brother said.

He used props and toys in his children’s services.

“That was always a big part of what he did, speaking with the children,” his brother said. “My brother was very in touch with his inner child.

“He had a wicked sense of humor and a real sense of irony,” his brother said. “He was incredibly intellectual and a voracious reader and in touch with cultural trends. People very much responded to him because he was very empathic.”

He thought through his sermons, writing each by hand.

He believed that with every sermon, “you should give it to the people like it’s the first time they hear it, and it’s the last time they hear it,” his brother said.

Jeffrey Kent Kimpel was born Feb. 14, 1946, in Lima to JoAnn and Earl “Rocky” Kimpel. He was a 1964 graduate of Lima Senior High School, where he played football and basketball. He received a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University, where his major was political science and his minor was psychology. He was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

He’d been accepted to law school, and “he had what he described as a call and decided to go in another direction, to go into the seminary and into the ministry,” his brother said.

A great-grandfather, Christian Eckhardt, had been a Lutheran minister, and many of the Kimpel family’s activities revolved around Zion Lutheran in Lima: worship; social gatherings, and church-sponsored team sports.

“He had already been strongly part of the church,” his brother said.

Pastor Kimpel received a master of divinity degree from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Columbus. He had a doctor of ministry degree from St. Mary’s Seminary & University, Baltimore.

He liked to play golf and rooted for Ohio State University teams.

His son Michael died in 1997.

Surviving are his wife, Louise Kimpel, whom he married June 27, 1970; son, Jamie Kimpel; mother, JoAnn Kimpel, and brother, Dan Kimpel.

Visitation will be 4-8 p.m. today and 2-8 p.m. Monday in the Witzler-Shank Funeral Home, Perrysburg. Services will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday in St. John’s Lutheran Church, Stony Ridge, where he was a member.

The family suggests tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio or St. John’s Lutheran, Stony Ridge, Ohio.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: or 419-724-6182.