William J. Kimberling Ph.D.

William J. Kimberling Ph.D.

October 16, 1940-November 4, 2023

William Joseph Kimberling, age 83, of Waterloo, Nebraska, left this world on November 4, 2023. He died peacefully and quickly with his family surrounding him. He lived life to the fullest even while fighting cancer, dialysis, and diabetes in the last years of his life.

William “Bill” was born October 16, 1940, in Logansport, Indiana, to Ruth and Delbert Kimberling. Early in his life, his father died in WWII; subsequently Bill was raised by Ruth and Homer Bernhardt once Ruth remarried. He graduated from Logansport High School, where he met his wife of 63 years, Rose Mary McCain. Bill went on to study mathematics and genetics, as an undergraduate, at the University of Indiana. Following that, he studied genetics and earned his PhD in Medical Genetics from Indiana University School of Medicine.

After a distinguished career in population genetics, Bill retired from Boys Town National Research Hospital as Senior Research Scientist where he worked for over 40 years. His research was in genetic disorders affecting sight and hearing. In 2006, he joined the faculty at University of Iowa and continued his research in Usher Syndrome. The creation of the William Kimberling Usher Research Laboratory was dedicated in 2015 to honor his hard work and commitment to families afflicted with the debilitating disease.

Rose Mary and Bill were high school sweethearts. They married in 1960 in Logansport, Indiana, and went on to have 5 children in 7 years: Susan, Marty, Patty, Joe, and Dave. They have 9 grandchildren; Zach, Ashleigh, Chaeli, Taylor, Hayden, Samantha, Ali, CJ, and Sydney, who, so far, have given them 9 great-grandchildren. For the last twenty years, Bill and Rose Mary lived on a lake in Waterloo, Nebraska, where they enjoyed both viewing the wildlife and boating, to the extent that Bill was a member of the auxiliary Coast Guard up until his death.

Bill loved life and filled it with plenty of activities. Throughout his life, Bill loved to read, especially Science Fiction and science related magazines; he almost always had a dog and favored the Jack Russell Terrier. He also enjoyed playing games with colleagues and family.  Later in life, he started painting, doing puzzles, and building architecture Lego sets. Being a lifetime learner, he even took some classes at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, and Lincoln. In addition, he loved spending time with his family and especially the children.

Bill was predeceased by son, Joe Kimberling. He is survived by wife, Rose Mary; daughters, Susan Kannawin (Chris), Marty Dougherty (John), Patty Kimberling; son, David Kimberling; all his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be Saturday, November 11, 2023, from 10 – 11 am at Boys Town Dowd Memorial Chapel, 13943 Dowd Dr. Omaha. The Mass of Christian Burial will follow at 11am. Interment is at Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Elkhorn, NE immediately following. The family asks that only family members attend the interment.

In lieu of flowers, memorials will be directed by the family towards genetic research.

To view a live broadcast of the service, please go to heafeyheafey.com and click “Live Cast” at the top of the home page.


  • Judy Kenyon Posted November 7, 2023 7:20 pm

    My prayers to Rose Mary and the rest of the family. The genetics world has lost a great man.

    • Marty Posted November 8, 2023 10:23 am

      Thank you Judy! The genetics world lost a great man and we lost a great dad.

  • Mike & Sue Weston Posted November 8, 2023 1:08 pm

    Rest in Peace Dr. Kimberling. It was an honor to have worked with you during exciting times. Sue and I send our heartfelt condolences to the Kimberling family.

  • Judy van schuyer Posted November 8, 2023 1:19 pm

    Loved my dear cousin so much.Prayers for Rosie and family

    My heart goes out to Rosie and family.Bill and I were like brother and sister growing up. He was close to all my siblings but to me espically. Loved him so much

  • John Cook Posted November 8, 2023 1:42 pm

    Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; Love leaves a memory no one can steal. Prayers from our family to yours.

  • David Goldgar Posted November 8, 2023 6:05 pm

    Sorry to hear about Bill’s passing. He taught me everything I know about genetics and was a great Mentor in science and in life. Condolences to all the extended family.

  • Connie Watters Miles Posted November 8, 2023 6:30 pm

    It was my great privilege to work with Dr. Kimberling for many years as families were diagnosed with Usher syndrome. A brilliant scientist with a humble heart.

  • Christopher C Woodfill Posted November 9, 2023 8:25 am

    May his soul be guided safely to the other side. The Usher world lost a giant.

  • Jan E Bowman Posted November 9, 2023 2:59 pm

    Farewell Uncle Bil. My love to Rosie and the family. May God sustain you with the wonderful memories of a lifetime well lived. Jan Shedron Bowman Logansport, IN

  • Dikki (Shedron) Leonard Posted November 10, 2023 8:37 am

    Rest in Peace, Uncle Bill. I will never forget you. My condolences to Rosie and the family.

  • Francine Gonzalez Posted November 10, 2023 4:43 pm

    It was an honor to have worked with Dr. Kimberling. He was a good man and brilliant. May he Rest in Peace.

  • Emily Taylor-Snell Posted November 14, 2023 2:43 pm

    When I first entered the field of Deafblindness in the 1990’s, I relied on the work of Dr. Kimberling related to Usher Syndrome and connected many families for information, support and access to research studies. Condolences to the family for their loss as we also mourn the loss of Dr Kimberling and celebrate his life!

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