Friday, May 8, 2015

Pierre Kimsey, Producer Extraordinaire

An artist of great stature, he graced WKNO and Memphis, and excelled most of all in empathy.

Posted By on Fri, May 8, 2015 at 8:49 AM

click to enlarge jb_pierre_2011jpg.jpg

This will be personal.

Pierre Kimsey, the producer of WKNO-TV’s “Behind the Headlines” show and of numerous other features and interviews for that station, unexpectedly died this week, apparently of a heart attack in his apartment on Monday. His body was discovered at some point later, and news of his death went around on Thursday. 

That kind of quasi-anonymous passing belied the fact that Pierre was beloved of many, almost everybody who knew him, in fact. My friend and colleague Les Smith knew Pierre for 30 years and is a better source than I am for a full sense of his life and accomplishments, but I knew him long enough — beginning in 2010, when he asked me to be one of the four original cast members of BTH — to feel privileged.

He was an Emmy winner as a producer and had been a renowned TV feature reporter for long before that, working in such climes as Florida, Charlotte, and Memphis. But his real accomplishment, his real grace, was as a human being. He was endlessly thoughtful, a pure delight, solicitous to a fault with those he worked with.

Pierre had every right, as an artist of considerable stature, to indulge himself in ego trips, but he was remarkably self-effacing instead, always at the service of others, taking care of their needs and concerns. It was that unique empathy that made him so effective as reporter, interviewer, producer, and friend.

Case in point: the picture, dating from 2011, that illustrates this post. Do I find it personally gratifying? Yep. Did then, do now.

The sign we're holding was something he surprised me with at an informal get-together for the original cast of BTH. What a nice touch! He also had little party favors made for us, and badges bearing our likeness. He was endlessly attentive and charming to my wife and daughters on that occasion, as well.

He was 62, much too young to go. As great as he was as an artist and technician and journalist and producer — all of that — it was as a human being that he had the most impact. Delight the Heavens, my friend!

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