- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 23, 2005

James V. Kimsey co-founded AmericaOnline, helping to revolutionize the way the world communicates and conducts business.

Yet his closest friends insist that his landmark success pales in comparison to the humanitarian work he does both in the District and throughout the world.

That was the message Friday when Queen Noor, Joe Robert, Lucky Roosevelt, Fred and Marlene Malek, Sam Donaldson and other pals gathered at the Kennedy Center to salute Mr. Kimsey as the first annual recipient of the Greater D.C. Cares’ Spark a Change Legacy Award.

One guest lovingly called him “the softest touch” when it comes to philanthropy.

“No matter what’s going on in the lives of young people, you’ll find Jim there,” said Thomas Lewis, founder of the Fishing School in Northeast, which provides motivational, faith-based help for hard-luck teens. Mr. Lewis, like many of those present, experienced the honoree’s philanthropy firsthand.

“He represents everything that’s great about this country. Most of all, he’s a soldier for doing good,” said Luis Alberto Moreno, who recently left his post as Colombian ambassador to the U.S. to head the Inter-American Development Bank.

The guest of honor, who served two tours of duty in Vietnam, used his allotted time to turn the tables on the well-wishers. He praised both his friends and Greater D.C. Cares — which coordinates volunteers with a wealth of charitable projects — for their good deeds.

“D.C. has more resources per capita than any other city. It should be the safest and most educated place in the world,” said Mr. Kimsey, who added that his hometown was certainly headed in that direction thanks the work and generosity of those gathering in his behalf.

The Urban Nation H.I.P. H.O.P. Choir sang a rousing version of “Hero,” a fitting tribute for the arts benefactor who is not only the second largest contributor ever to the Kennedy Center (after Catherine Reynolds) but makes sure every fifth-grader in the District sees at least one Kennedy Center show per year to instill in them an appreciation for the arts.

Steve Case, who co-founded AOL in 1985 with Mr. Kimsey (the company’s original name was Quantum Computer Services), spoke of his colleague’s wisdom during a pre-program reception.

“This is a company that has to do well as well as do good,” Mr. Case recalled his friend and mentor insisting in the early days.

Radio hostess Laura Ingraham, a vision of health after fighting off breast cancer earlier this year, called Mr. Kimsey one of her dearest, most supportive pals.

“His philanthropy in Washington is something I can only hope to aspire to,” she said.

District Council chairwoman and mayoral hopeful Linda Cropp said Mr. Kimsey’s commitment to better education for every District student said much about his core values.

“He ought to be applauded not just for recognizing it,” Mrs. Cropp said, “but doing something about it.”

— Christian Toto


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