DECADES OF DEDICATION TO TOWN: AFTER ROUGH CHILDHOOD, WALTON FINDS PURPOSE IN BID FOR COUNCIL, VOLUNTEERING
Kimberly Walton was born in Newark and raised in San Francisco by adoptive parents who separated when she was 3. She bounced between households and at 13 she was declared a ward of the court.
At 14, she arrived at the Windsor home of her new fosterparents, Gene and Janice Schettler, and settled in to become an outspoken civic booster and tireless youth sports supporter.
"Out of the city and into the country life, I moved here with my cat and fell in love with Windsor," said Walton.
"We lived on Silk Road, by the airport, and I had a horse named Charger who I could jump on bareback any time I wanted." Sometimes she rode him all the way to Pohley's Market.
Walton describes her life with the Schettlers as interesting, "because you don't belong. But Windsor made it a place for me to belong. The children accepted me."
Now 50 and the mother of three grown children, she continues to return the favor,
She graduated from Healdsburg High School in 1980, bought her first home in 1988 and three years later got involved with the campaign to incorporate Windsor.
Walton met her second husband, Brian, at a softball game in 1984, and her interest in youth has defined most of her adult life.
Because of her children, she got involved with youth organizations. She helped develop the Boys & Girls Club and start Windsor High School's first softball program.
"What better place to start than by giving our youth an opportunity to be children and to experience life in the manner in which it's supposed to be," she said.
After eight years of volunteering with girls' sports, she went over to the boys' side. While her son was at Windsor High School, she coached wrestling and helped with baseball and football stats.
Since 2011, she has coached JV softball for Ursuline and Cardinal Newman high schools and was recruited to do football stats for Cardinal Newman.
"If you were to tell me that I'd ever coach girls softball at Cardinal Newman, I'd say, 'That's not possible.' But I'm very proud and it's an honor to be a part of the organization."
Walton also was tapped to chair the town's first Parks and Recreation Commission.
"That's when Keiser Park came to flourish," Walton said. She wanted it built for the sake of her children and later joined the board of the budding Windsor Boys & Girls Club as a way to help other children in need.
She was charged with finding potential sites for the new club, so she researched juvenile crime and met with a parole officer from the Los Guillicos Juvenile Justice Center. Eventually she was convinced that middle-school aged children were the ones who needed it most.
Rather than building it at Mattie Washburn Elementary School, the current Brooks Road South location was chosen because of its proximity to Windsor Middle School.
"They (children) had a place to go to right away and belong," Walton said, "and as a foster kid, I knew the importance of that. You just need a place to belong because peer pressure is so enormous."
She also worked with the Town Planning Commission and the Parks and Recreation Commission to design the Town Green.
"The place where I used to run my horse is now a place where people come here every Tuesday and Thursday nights for movies or concerts on the green," she said. "It's a proud accomplishment."
Walton also is proud to have been part of the successful school bond campaign for Windsor High School.
Searching for more ways to get things accomplished in 1996, she ran for Windsor Town Council against Deborah Fudge, losing by 84 votes.
"You can't be afraid if you believe in it," Walton said, describing herself as outspoken. "In order to make things happen, you've got to put yourself out there."
Pearl Reed, a recreation program specialist who has known Walton for 20 years, said, "For as long as I have known Kimberly, she has been involved with the community and giving back to others whether it be helping with sport programs, school functions or kids activities.
"She will tell you like it is and does not beat around the bush."
For the past eight years, Walton has owned an accounting business called New Beginnings Bookkeeping and Consulting Services. Her clients range from hotels to sign shops and marketing agencies, and being self-employed allows her to make time for coaching.
"My children aren't going to be children for so long," she said. "I want to enjoy them."
Walton's experiences growing up taught her to respect the young people in her life, she said. When her children were young, their home was known as the "Gatorade" house. They lived close to the high school, and everyone came there after school.
"I have several other 'sons' from other mothers who I didn't give birth to. And I'm known as 'Mama K.' You can't take me anywhere without me knowing someone."
Walton's husband had major surgery in February, and her middle child, Brianna, just moved out, leaving the couple with an empty nest and Walton with questions about what comes next.
"If my husband was able, I'd love to have foster children," she said. Her children Felicia and Tom have dogs but no children, so grandparenting isn't an option.
For now, she is content serving on the Windsor Parks and Recreation Foundation,providing grand-doggy daycare and spending time with her own dog, Keno.