Edward Francis Gimbel, 71, of Decatur, IN passed away unexpectedly at home on Wednesday, November 15. Born in Chicago, IL to Captain Edward Lester and Marion Martens Gimbel on March 1, 1952, Ed was a precocious child with an adventurous sense of engineering and design — building tree houses in his backyard and amusement parks in ‘his’ side of the garage where neighborhood kids could pay a quarter to ride his “roller coaster.” He graduated from Arlington High School in Arlington Heights, IL in 1970 and his passion for design continued into college where he graduated with a fine arts degree from Milton College in Milton, WI in 1975.
After marrying his best friend, Claudia Ann Sumner on September 22, 1973, Ed began his career in pottery — creating work that adorned and decorated restaurants and clubs in Chicago. With the prospect (and expense) of a second child, Ed took a job at General Motors in Janesville, WI in 1977. What began as a means for health insurance, though, turned into an incredible career where Ed worked numerous jobs — leveraging his engineering and design acumen to span a more than 40-year career in an industry he loved. Retiring in January of 2020, most recently as a Product Launch Body Shop Coordinator, he was employee number 14 at the General Motors Fort Wayne Assembly plant where everyone knew and recognized his golf-cart, friendly smile, and warm hello.
Ed’s most prized designs, though, were his five children, Ryan, Margie, Betsey, Rusty, and Karl and his and Claudia’s house on Jefferson Street. Built in 1881, Ed and Claudia bought the house in 1986 and since then Ed had worked tirelessly to design and build a place to call home — adding his personal touches and goofy antics to everything from the lockers on the back porch to the hidden bedroom behind the bookshelf on the third floor. He did this all while watching and enjoying his kids grow and move around the world. He and Claudia loved seeing new places. Whether the top of a double-decker bus in Hong Kong or driving the autobahn in Austria, he always appreciated the aesthetic and beauty all around him.
Ed is survived by his wife of more than 50 years, Claudia Ann Sumner Gimbel and his five children, Ryan (Casey) Gimbel of Plain City, UT, Margie (Brandon) Kooman of Raleigh, NC, Betsey (Richard) Hawkins of Dharan, Saudi Arabia, Edward Russell (Meridth) Gimbel of Salinas, CA and Karl Gimbel of Indianapolis, IN and eight grandchildren Ashley (Tyler) Davis, Ryan Chloe Gimbel, Nora, Calvin, Henry and Frederick Hawkins, and Ursa and Edward Felix Gimbel. Ed is also survived by his two nieces Teressa Marquardt and Stacey Phipps (and children, Jack and Justin Marquardt and Kyle and Lexi Phipps), who were like daughters to him after his only sister, Elizabeth Gimbel Martin passed away.
To make a long story short, a phrase Ed would often say and then follow with five more minutes of exciting detail, Ed lived a beautiful life, and he will missed fiercely by all who knew and loved him.
The family is hosting a visitation on Monday, November 20 from 4:00 – 7:00 pm at the Haggard, Hirschy & Zelt Funeral Home at 225 West Adams Street in Decatur, IN. A service will be held at the funeral home on Tuesday, November 21 at 11:00 am. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you donate to the Friends of the Library in Decatur, IN – a cause Ed thought important in helping our community to see the beauty in the world through books. Friends of the Decatur Public Library, Inc., 128 S. Third Street, Decatur, IN 46733.