Kimbert E. Larsen, 2451 Cascade Ave., Billings, died Feb. 20, 2020, at St. Vincent Healthcare, following a long illness. He was 78.
Kim suffered a heart attack in 1997, then battled heart disease for several years. He faithfully went to cardiac rehab exercises ever since his heart attack. He required four more stents in 2005.
A journalist, Kim retired in 1990 after serving 31 years in various capacities on newspapers in Montana, Idaho, Colorado and Washington, D.C. He continued working as a freelance writer after his retirement.
Born on June 14, 1941, in Boulder, Colorado, Kim was the son of Dorothy and Junius Larsen. His father was a university chemistry professor and his mother was a ballet dancer and teacher.
Kim grew up in Pocatello, Idaho, where he attended school at St. Joseph’s, Whittier, Franklin and Pocatello High. He graduated from Mount Angel Abbey Seminary in St. Benedict, Oregon, where he was considering becoming a Catholic priest. He later majored in journalism at Idaho State University.
Once active in politics, Kim was elected president of the Idaho Young Democrats and served as chairman of Idaho College and University Students for Kennedy and Johnson. He also was an officer for the Bannock County Democratic Central Committee.
Kim began his journalism career in the Pocatello bureau of the Deseret News of Salt Lake City. He later headed the Salt Lake Tribune’s Pocatello bureau.
During the 1960s, Kim was an associate editor for The Register System of Catholic Newspapers in Denver. He also worked as a reporter for the Helena Independent Record and editor of the Western Montana Register in Helena in 1964 to 1965 before returning to his former position in Denver.
In 1969, Kim was hired as national affairs reporter for Catholic News Service in Washington, D.C., where he covered the White House and Congress.
He came to Billings in 1970 to begin a 20-year career at The Billings Gazette. His first position at The Gazette was front-page editor and wire editor for the then-evening edition. He then served 13 years as education reporter. He also had stints as county government reporter, labor reporter, general assignment reporter, and editor of the religion page.
During his career, Kim interviewed numerous national newsmakers, including composer Lou Harrison; author Aldous Huxley; ambassador Clare Booth Luce; U.S. Sens. Gaylord Nelson, Hubert Humphrey and Robert Packwood; actors Henry Fonda, George Montgomery, Hugh O’Brien, Maureen O’Hara, Mimsy Farmer and James MacArthur; film director Delmer Daves; TV and radio personalities Ark Linkletter and Arthur Godfrey; and evangelist Billy Graham, among many others.
Kim was listed in the Marquis Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the West.
Kim took early retirement in 1990 so he could spend more time with his parents, who were ill. Both of his parents died in 1991.
During his retirement years, Kim became more active in his church, serving several years on the Parish Pastoral Council at Holy Rosary Church, including several terms as chairman. He also served on the Parish Worship Commission and the liturgical planning committee, and he assisted in the funeral ministry.
Kim was elected the first chairman of the Diocesan Pastoral Council after he helped to establish the organization in 1995. The council serves as an advisory body to the bishop of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings. Kim also served on two diocesan committees that directed planning for the diocese.
He also served as vice president of the Montana Catholic Conference, which advised the state’s two bishops on legislative matters.
Kim was a longtime member of the Oblates of St. Benedict associated with Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon. Oblates include laypersons who try to live by the Rule of St. Benedict. Kim was especially proud of his Benedictine association.
During his retirement years as a freelance writer, Kim served as news editor of The Harvest, newspaper of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings.
Kim belonged to the peace wing of the Catholic Church. He believed that all war is morally wrong and that Christians should not serve in the military. He was against all forms of killing, including abortion, capital punishment and war. He was a supporter of government programs that would end poverty, provide universal healthcare and good education for all. He was critical of pro-life supporters who did not care about children after they were born and often destined to a life of poverty. He said they should be called pro-birth rather than pro-life.
Hobbies enjoyed by Kim included reading, listening to classical music, watching old movies on video and stamp collecting. Kim was proud of his private library of about 6,000 books.
His other activities included traveling, skiing, hiking and occasional mountain climbing. He especially enjoyed long walks at Cannon Beach, Oregon, and in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana.
Among the highlights in Kim’s life was his selection in 1980 by the Norwegian Government as a visiting journalist. He visited several cities in Norway to interview government and education leaders.
Other highlights included skiing in the French Alps, winter climbs of Mount Bonneville in Idaho with his father, and spending a delightful summer in 1957 with his parents at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, while his father attended a chemistry institute at the University of North Carolina. Kim also enjoyed visits to Mount Angel Abbey for periods of meditation and prayer.
Kim was a member of many organizations, including Sierra Club, Pax Christi USA, American Rivers, Americans United, ACLU, Amnesty International, Catholic Press Association, Common Cause, Danish Immigrant Museum, Earth Justice, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Greenpeace, Human Rights Watch, Montana Human Rights Network, Interfaith Alliance, National Arbor Day Foundation, National Parks Conservation Association, National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Wildlife Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Ocean Conservancy, People for the American Way, Public Citizen, Rainforest Alliance, Save-the-Redwoods League, Waterkeeper Alliance, Wildlife Land Trust, Audubon Society and World Wildlife Fund, among several others.
His membership in many environmental organizations demonstrated Kim’s concern about protecting God’s creation from any further damage and destruction by irresponsible corporations and politicians.
Kim never married. He was devoted to his parents and lived with them during the last 21 years of their lives.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Niobe Larsen of France. He is survived by two nephews, Mark Eaton of Toulouse, France, and Matthew Eaton of Courchevel, France.
A funeral mass will be at 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 28, at St. Pius X Catholic Church, 717 18th St. West. Rite of committal will follow in Sunset Memorial Gardens. Kim will be buried next to his parents.