Kimbell, Kay (1886–1964)

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: November 9, 2020

Kay Kimbell, entrepreneur and benefactor of the Kimbell Art Museum, was born in Oakwood, Leon County, on June 15, 1886, the son of Benjamin B. and Mattie (Jones) Kimbell. He attended the public schools in Whitewright, Grayson County, but quit school in the eighth grade to work as an office boy in a grain-milling company there, where he later founded the Beatrice Milling Company. This firm grew into Kimbell Milling Company, the pilot organization of diverse interests that Kimbell later founded or directed. At the time of his death he was the head of more than seventy corporations, including flour, feed, and oil mills, grocery chains, an insurance company, and a wholesale grocery firm. In addition to pursuing business interests, Kimbell collected art. He established the Kimbell Art Foundation in Fort Worth in 1935 and at his death left his fortune to the foundation, with directions to build a museum of the first class in Fort Worth. The collection of art that Kimbell and his wife amassed included many fine works by late Renaissance, French nineteenth-century, and American nineteenth-century artists, with a special emphasis on eighteenth-century English painters such as Frederic Leighton and Thomas Gainsborough. The Kimbells' home in Fort Worth was often visited by touring groups before the museum was completed, and a great many of the works in their collection were continuously on loan to area colleges and universities, libraries, and churches. Kimbell married Velma Fuller (see KIMBELL, VELMA FULLER) on December 24, 1910. They had no children. Kimbell died on April 13, 1964, in Fort Worth and was buried in Whitewright.

Dallas Herald, April 14, 1964. Houston Post, April 14, 1964. Who's Who in America, 1960–61.

  • Visual Arts
  • Patrons, Collectors, and Philanthropists
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Fort Worth

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Anonymous, “Kimbell, Kay,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 29, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 9, 2020

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