Kimberly Cole (Cole) Winebrenner, PhD

June 14, 1963 ~ December 3, 2020 (age 57) 57 Years Old

Kimberly Winebrenner, PhD Obituary

Kimberly Cole Winebrenner PhD, 57, passed away unexpectedly Thursday, December 3, 2020 at Akron General Cleveland Clinic.
Kim is survived by her husband of 30 years, Kurt; son Andrew Winebrenner; mother Bonnie Cole; siblings Cynthia Cottrell, Michael Cole and Joseph Cole; many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her daughter Emily Winebrenner and father Frank Cole.
The family will receive friends Sunday, December 13, 2020 from 1 to 4 pm at the Anthony Funeral Home, 1990 S. Main St, Akron where masks covering mouth and nose must be worn, six foot distancing must be observed, no hugging or other touching will be permitted and numbers will be limited to 50% of occupancy. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made Akron Canton Regional Foodbank, 350 Opportunity Pkwy, Akron, OH 44307 or

Kurt Winebrenner

She was the best of us.
As I look back on my short life with Kimberly, it occurs to me that she was the only person that I have met who embodied the finest characteristics of humanity. She was very caring, loving, inquisitive, funny, creative, and gave her heart very freely to anyone she came in contact with. Maybe her heart failed because she had given it all away during her short life. We will never know, but I choose to believe that because she gave one hundred percent to everything and everyone in her life.
While she did not have any biological children, she was a mother to thousands of Kent State Students over the last thirty years and was a major force in shaping her students and advisee’s selves, educations, careers, and lives. In addition, she was a very good step mother to my daughter and we later adopted her son, Andrew, to whom Kim was his entire world. It’s quite amazing that Andrew is not her biological son, since they are alike in so many ways.
Kim and I had been inseparable for as long as I knew her. We did everything together and enjoyed being with each other. She was so much fun and had such a way with language that she could make anyone laugh. We had so much fun together and I have so many great memories of her.
Andrew and I will lover her, miss her, honor her, and will be guided by her example and words for the rest of our lives.

Hagan Whiteleather

Dr. Kimberly Cole Winebrenner acted as a sometimes mother-sister-mentor-advisor to me, but she was always a friend. She often referred to us as soul-friends because we understood one another through to the core. While I cherish our nomenclature, I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that Kim truly saw me. One of her greatest gifts was her ability to embrace and love other people as they are. I witnessed her compassion in action during my undergraduate years (most of which were spent in her 204 office space). Students would come frazzled and uncertain (sometimes about school, sometimes about life) and leave her office composed and with a plan. She took the problems of others on as her own, and more often than not, she helped make lives more manageable.

Kim was one of the most exceptional instructors I’ve ever known. She was kind, charismatic, flexible, and immersed in her subject matter. Watching her extemporaneously burst into verse during class at the mere mention of a Dickinson, Frost, or Bradstreet poem never failed to mesmerize. She was magnetic.

Outside of the classroom, she was a lifelong learner of prominent and esoteric subject matters alike. If you called her at home some evening, she may be studying Chinese, tending to her herbs, playing the dulcimer, or zentangling. (When she would regale us with her exploits in candle making, she would laugh so freely every time. She could bring joy to even the messiest of moments.) Physical hobbies aside, much of her life was spent between the pages of books. Her reading habits were as varied as her artistic skills, from the innumerable rereading of Jane Eyre to contemporary nonfiction to canon classics to mass market paperbacks, she consumed as many books as she could get her hands on. Conversations with her were brimming with information and insight. To paraphrase Dickinson, her brain was wider than the sky.

The way Kim loved her family was inspirational. I doubt there's a student she’s ever advised or instructed who doesn’t know her son Andrew’s name…and a dozen facts or stories about him. Her eyes would truly shine with love when she would leave the office and say Kurtis, her husband, was waiting for her. Her devotion and appreciation for her mother, father, siblings, nieces and nephews came through in every story she told and every smile at the mention of their names.

While her heart was soft, Kim's backbone was steel-plated. She never failed to stand up for what she believed. Through her work on university committees and her political and social stances, she fought for people, especially those who couldn’t fight for themselves. She gave so much of herself for the benefit of others.

Kim is going to be missed as a daughter, sister, wife, mother, mentor, teacher, colleague, and friend. The world is a lesser place without her, and while we are grateful for the memories, she will be missed all of our lives-long.

Joseph Cole
As I attempt to put words to paper to express the unbelievable pain and sorrow that has consumed me since the devastating news, I realize all too clear that I am a poor substitute to the writer that my Kim is or was. I search for words and meaning, yet I find none. My only refuge is the thought of her and the things she held close. Her husband, her son, her mother. How she loved them so. I find solace in that love, that love for others. I find pride in who my sister is. However, the sadness too difficult to bear prevents my ability to put it into words. Therefore, I look to her favorite poet, Emily Dickinson, to help articulate this grief.

I tried to think a lonelier Thing
Than any I had seen—

There is a pain—so utter—
It swallows substance up—

Kimberly leaves a legacy of a caring teacher and mentor to the countless students that she helped propel from timid Freshmen to confidant, eager young-adults ready to take on the world. An award-winning English Professor and national expert in her academic field, Kim was an excellent writer, researcher, and editor of the highest rank. Her commitment to her students, colleagues, and the university didn't end in the lecture hall but extended further into numerous administrative and leadership roles. Kim proved irreplaceable as the Honors College student-advisor and as the lead negotiator in contracts for her beloved Union.

Her exceptional spirit and special nature were evident from an early age. Before the age of two, Kim could speak in complete sentences, developed a keen interest in Classical Music, and was already collecting books for her growing library. Unsurprising to all that she would grow up to be an Academic and a true intellectual.

As noted, Kim's talents were immense and diverse. She was a gifted artist, doting Cat-Mom, musician, gourmet-cook, Anglophile, and Sinophile. But Kim's greatest love was always her books. Kim had an unwavering devotion to the written word. She was a voracious reader whose library was vast and varied. Kim understood the unique and magical nature of literature. Within those pages, she found beauty and wisdom, and most importantly, truth and the universality of the human condition. Once again, Emily Dickinson says it much better than I.

There is no Frigate like a book to take us lands away
nor any coursers like a page of prancing Poetry.

Kim was progressive in thought and deed from an early age. Always an enemy of ignorance and injustice. The cornerstone of Kim's belief system was her unwavering commitment to fairness and tolerance. Kim's heart was filled with love and kindness, and in this, as in many things, she taught us.

Kim was the fire that we all gathered around for warmth. She leaves us all too soon. She made this world a better place than the one in which she found. She was a special person, and her loyalty and love enveloped you and made you feel whole and complete. There will never be anyone else like her, and we will miss her dearly. A piece of us all has passed. She will forever be among the Stars. In closing, I leave you with Dickinson.

Because I could not stop for Death—
He kindly stopped for me—
The Carriage held but just Ourselves—
And Immortality

An English Department Death: Kimberly

She died at the end of a week when, always, we would meet
For long FAC meetings chaired by Marovitz or Trogdon
Or Fein. Recently, I learned that the widow of Tom Davis
Had died as well in the far West. All the meetings fade,
The measure is hard to find, gone now into virtual remotes.

So Babacar’s announcement strangely is appropriate,
Gone yesterday or today. Time collapses. Kim is gone.
I saw her last on the listserv eagerly at the end of summer,
Imploring students to be advised. My friend reported
She had heard Kim was going to hospital for a few days.
She would work continuously for students. She is gone.

I knew her years ago as Kimberly Cole, eager student
In a writing class I taught when the whole department
Seemed young, strong faces, feisty. Tom Davis would teach
At night to be alone in the building. She wrote with him
On early American literature, then set up an advising system
That enlightened each day for every student. Now gone dark.

I knew Kim, also, as a strong Faculty Senator and advocate
For her rank. A solid voice in politics across the green campus.
She was very proud of what we had become in modern times.
With giant intellectuals to send her students for ancient wisdom,
Her early death now seems nearly virtual, hard to know as real.

Mack Hassler
December 2020

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December 13, 2020

1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Anthony Funeral Home Kucko Anthony Kertesz Chapel
1990 S. Main St.
Akron, OH 44301

Funeral Service
December 13, 2020

4:00 PM
Anthony Funeral Home Kucko Anthony Kertesz Chapel
1990 S. Main St.
Akron, OH 44301


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