‘Years In The Making’

Local Woman Writes Chapter Published As Part Of Book On Canadian Figure Skater

Martha Lowder Kimball and Toller Cranston at the Lausanne Worlds in 1997. Kimball and Cranston collaborated on many different books until his passing in 2015 and recently Kimball has contributed a chapter to a book about him. Submitted photo

A recently released book about Canadian figure skater and artist Toller Cranston, includes a chapter written by Jamestown native Martha Lowder Kimball.

The book, “Toller Cranston: Ice, Paint, Passion” has been put together by Cranston’s sister, Phillippa Cranston Baran, and consists of chapters written by people who played diverse roles in the figure skater’s life.

Besides being an Olympic bronze medalist, world free skating champion and multiple time Canadian men’s champion, Cranston was also a well-known artist who earned the Order of Canada honors. Cranston passed away in 2015.

Kimball met Cranston in the 1980s and collaborated with him as she co-wrote the last three books that have focused on him, “Zero Tolerance”, “When Hell Freezes Over, Should I Bring My Skates?” and “Ice Cream”. Her writings in the comprehensive illustrated volume, due to be launched in Toronto in February and in Arnprior, Ontario, Canada, and San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico, in May, reflect the odd coincidences and international adventures that brought the three volumes to fruition.

Kimball has had a few other additional books, including the authorized biography “Robin Cousins; Forever Two As One”, a collaboration with world figure skating champions Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner; and “A German-American Childhood in Old Canarsie, New York”, her edited and illustrated memoirs of a great aunt, Stella Margaret Butecke. Kimball taught at Jamestown Public Schools for 32 years and is married to former Jamestown mayor, Richard Kimball Jr.

Kimball said she got to know Cranston’s sister through her collaborations with him and was asked to write the chapter on what those collaborations were like.

“It’s the story of how we got together and how and where we collaborated,” Kimball said. “With about two weeks’ notice I went to San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico, for interviews and it went from there. We met at various world championships in Toronto and sometimes he came to Jamestown. This collaboration was years in the making.”

Kimball said the most important things to know about Toller were not only his figure skating and art career, but that he also used to be a skating commentator. Before they met, Kimball said she wrote several articles about him.

“He actually wrote me a fan letter saying that I understood him better than he understood himself, which we found to be true,” Kimball said. “I could write in his voice. I wrote many different figure skating articles through the years, and taught at the high school for 32 years. My students were very interested.”

While Kimball has no other current books planned she does have other projects going on, such as her new focus in genealogy. Part of the reason for having no other books planned, Kimball said, is because figure skating is not as popular as it used to be. She did just recently publish her great aunt’s memoir, adding that anything can happen in the future.

“I never really know what is next,” Kimball said.


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