Mary Kimberly Shirk
Fondly referred to as ‘Bob’ or ‘Auntie Bob’, Mary was the youngest daughter of the Kimberly’s. During Elbert Shirk’s service in the Navy for World War I he jumped into the ocean to save a Belgian solider. Unfortunately, injuries from this heroic effort took Mr. Shirks life. In 1919 Mrs. Shirk moved to Redlands to find solace and care for her aging parents.
However, Mary Kimberly-Shirk’s legacy would be much more than a widow and daughter. Like her mother, Mrs. Shirk’s love of family and community would lend her the nickname ‘Patron Saint’ of Redlands. During her time at Kimberly Crest she was known throughout the community as a philanthropist and supporter of education. She served as President of Scripps College from 1942-1943 and continued her mother’s work with the Kimberly Juniors.
In 1968 the Redlands community was making an effort to save neighboring Prospect Park from development as a mobile home facility. A federal HUD grant had been offered and a remaining $60,000 needed to be raised to purchase the land. As an incentive for the people of Redlands to pull together to save this community jewel Mrs. Shirk offered her to donate her home to the ‘people of Redlands’ upon her death.
The effort was successful; Prospect Park was dedicated as a city park on August 9th, 1968 and on May 9th 1969 the Articles of Incorporation were signed for Kimberly-Shirk Association, a 501-C3 Non-Profit charged with the mission of acquiring and preserving the Kimberly Crest Estate for the people of Redlands.
In October of 1979 Mary Kimberly-Shirk passed in her home in Redlands and the editorial in the Redlands Daily Facts read, “Although Redlands is officially governed by a City Council, the citizens know in their hearts that it has actually been a monarchy for years. This is because we have had a matron queen, as much beloved by her people as Queen Elizabeth to her subjects…Today at age 99, she is dead. Let the bells toll.”