My Father's Trash Can

My father, Edward Lawrence Kimball, is 82 years old to my 52. To honor him on this father’s day, I wanted to give you an example of his wry sense of humor. (I warned him a while back that this was coming, so he won’t be totally surprised.)

In her February 2, 2012 post “Move Over Harvard: BYU Law Has Got Memorial Trash Cans,” in the online magazine Above the Law, Staci Zaretsky reports receiving an email saying:

While other law schools memorialize their noteworthy alumni with their name on a moot court room or on a co-curricular competition, BYU has stooped to a new low and now memorializes its alumni on trash cans.

Staci then continues:

The trash can isn’t dedicated to an alumnus, but rather, a professor emeritus of the law school. Professor Edward L. Kimball, who retired in 1995, used to teach criminal law, and was one of the original members of the BYU Law faculty. Here’s how the law school has chosen to honor Professor Kimball… [See the illustration above.]

The plaque on the Little Garbage Pail That Could reads: “The Edward L. Kimball Memorial Trash Can.” How freaking insulting. Professor Kimball is 82 years old, and according to his list of publications, he seems to be the master of all things Mormon. And all you’re going to give him is a trash can?

It took until the next day for Staci to figure out what was going on. She got this response from Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School: 

Professor Kimball was noted for two things: First, he had a dry sense of humor; and second, he did not take himself too seriously.

When he and his wife, Bee, gave a generous gift to the law school, the development officer indicated that there would be a plaque honoring them on the wall near the Moot Court Room. Professor Kimball objected and indicated that he would prefer to have a large, gold trash can placed in the foyer of the law school with a very small plaque stating: The Edward L. Kimball Memorial Trash Can.

Professor and Mrs. Kimball hoped that the “trash can” would bring a smile to students or visitors who read the plaque.“