June 19, 2019

Up close with Resident

Dolores Kimmel

A lifelong native to Philadelphia, Dolores Kimmel, affectionately known to all as Dee, has led a full and busy life as an accomplished ballerina, dance teacher, figure skater, and black belt in karate. Over the years she has built a rewarding legacy as an artist, wife and mother.

Coming from a long line of prima ballerinas and pianists, a love of performing arts runs in Dee’s family. From the age of three, she began taking ballet lessons and went on to become a professional ballerina at 13 where she performed with the Pennsylvania Ballet Company and was accepted into the Philadelphia Civic Opera Company. Her dreams of being a ballet dancer eventually took her to New York where she studied with Antony Tudor, the famed ballet master of the Ballet Company of NY.

By the age of 18, Dee was holding down three jobs, working part-time in fashion, teaching dance, and then rehearsing with the opera company in the evenings. Passionate about helping women and children, she initiated child abuse prevention efforts, and gave recitals for the Germantown Women’s Club.

After years of performing in a wide variety of NY shows and musicals, Dee transitioned back to Philly, where she opened her own dance studio. The studio was a huge success with 300 students after the first three years.

During her last year of teaching dance, Dee met her husband Murray, a urologist who had been in the Berry Plan, a Vietnam War-era program that allowed physicians to defer obligatory military service until they had completed medical school and residency training. The two married in 1956 and had four sons. They eventually settled in the Wyncote area where Murray completed his urology residency at Jefferson Hospital. Dee would later join her husband as his office assistant at his practice by Eakins Oval, right across from the Philadelphia Art Museum, where they worked side by side for 30 years until they retired.

Life as a busy mom never slowed Dee down. While her kids grew, they started to develop an interest and hobby in ice skating, and in her early 40s, Dee decided to join them. As a dancer she found figure skating came naturally and although she was encouraged to compete, she declined – choosing to practice simply out of a love for the sport. After a back injury forced Dee off the ice, she studied karate, eventually earning a black belt which she proudly keeps with her here at Oakwood Residence.

Eventually, Dee and her husband experienced some health issues and found that moving to a senior living community benefited them both. Sadly, her husband passed away five and a half years ago, however his memory lives on through their children who are accomplished doctors, a veterinarian and lawyer. Their eldest son, Dr. Brian Kimmel, is the Medical Director here at Oakwood Residence and makes sure to check up on his mom regularly.

Although she now gets around mostly in a wheelchair and walker, Dee is just as vibrant and passionate as ever. Take a moment to speak with Dee and you’ll find that she has much to share. We love her incredible spirit and are delighted that she’s made Oakwood Residence her home.