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Shock the World Campaign
In This Issue

       

The legacy of the Jimenez family
From humble beginnings, the clan leaves an enduring imprint on Wichita State




 

This is a story with many layers. One is about a man seeking to honor the legacy of his deceased brother. Another is about their mother’s boundless devotion to them – and their 17 siblings. And then there is the family’s unlikely yet deeply felt connection to basketball great Dave Stallworth.

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David Jimenez

The multiple strands of the story have come together in a way that is meaningful to Nick and Ralph Jimenez and their family: the generous endowment of three scholarships that will benefit WSU students for years to come.

Their story began in 1923 when their mother, Nicolasa Jimenez, fled her home in Mexico at age 13 because of brutal raids on her village. She wound up in Wichita and, over the next 26 years, had 19 children. One died at birth and another in boyhood.

Facing extreme poverty – at one point the family lived in a boxcar – Nicolasa taught her children that only hard work and education would improve their lot. They took her words to heart. After graduating from high school, all 17 attended at least some college. Seven attended Wichita State, including the baby of the family, David.

David Jimenez is the crux of this story. He worked most of his life at Boeing, along the way getting to know a co-worker by the name of Dave Stallworth. A basketball legend, Stallworth led the Shockers to two NCAA tournaments in 1964 and 1965 and played eight seasons in the NBA.

As a boy, David’s older brother, Ralph, often took him to WSU games in the years Stallworth played. They revered Stallworth, but his impact on their family reached beyond them. Ralph recalls sitting with his brothers around a tiny TV in the Jimenez home watching the infamous game against Cincinnati in 1964 when their mother walked by. Stallworth’s fierce performance caught her attention, and she celebrated as much as her sons when the Shockers won.

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Nicolasa and David Jimenez

“I remember my mother saying, ‘He worked so hard for that,’ ” recalls Ralph, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from WSU. “That says it all about my mother and her belief in hard work.”

Nicolasa Jimenez, a woman who sewed much of her children’s clothing, who learned to speak and write fluently in both Spanish and English, who took her children to church every Sunday, died in 1986 at the age of 77.

In 2017, David became seriously ill, spending his final days in a Wichita hospital. Ralph recalls visiting him and seeing a newspaper on a table, with a headline reporting Stallworth had died at the age of 75. Several days later, David passed away. He was 67. “It was just another way their lives intersected -- they died just a few days apart,” Ralph says.

After years of hard work and frugal living, David had saved a substantial sum, which he left entirely to his brother, Nick. Comfortable in his own retirement, Nick felt he didn’t need most of the money. That is how David Jimenez’ life led to a legacy that will help WSU students for generations to come.

“I wanted to do something that would honor David, that would be a tribute to the education our mother believed in so strongly and that would help people who need it financially,” says Nick, who also earned two degrees from WSU.

With the input of his siblings, Nick dedicated David’s bequest to three areas at Wichita State:

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• First, he provided additional funds to enhance a scholarship one of his sisters established in their mother’s name.

• Second, he established the David C. Jimenez Scholarship in sports management, a nod to David’s passion for sports as well as his 25 years of working as a statistician for Mike Kennedy, the voice of Shocker athletics.

• And, finally, he endowed the Dave Stallworth Memorial Scholarship, after learning of a campaign to install a statue of Stallworth at Charles Koch Arena. Organizers had also wanted to raise money for a scholarship in Stallworth’s name, but were short of funds.

“I think David would be pleased on all three counts,” Nick says. “Especially for our mother’s scholarship. They were very close. They are buried side by side, which is what he wanted.”

Nicolasa Jimenez’ tombstone bears the inscription “Mothers are God’s babysitters” on the front and the names of all of her children on the back. “She was our heroine,” Ralph Jimenez says. “None of us would have the lives we do without her.”

For more information

If you would like to learn more, contact Magnus Assarsson, WSU Foundation director of development for the College of Applied Studies and the College of Health Professions, at 316-978-6842 or magnus.assarsson@wichita.edu.

magnus assarsson