An Extraordinary Life

***Breaking News – Good Grief in Lottawatah has been published at Amazon,, and Smashwords. This is the 8th volume in the Brianna Sullivan Mysteries series. ***

By Evelyn David

Jill Kinmont Boothe died on Saturday. I never met her, but she was one of my few female heroes growing up.

My introduction to Jill Kinmont was in 1975 through one of two movies made of her life – The Other Side of the Mountain. I was in high school at the time and it seems to me looking back that some of the most significant influences of my life were the books, films, and music I encountered during my teen years. Okay, it was probably the hormones that made everything seem more intense, more real, but regardless the cause, those outside influences had a huge impact on my life.

To me, now and then, Jill Kinmont’s story was the very essence of why you should never give up on yourself or give in to other people’s expectations.  This was a very powerful message for a female high school student in the 1970s when everything was changing for girls and women.

As I’m getting older, and the people whom I admired while I was a teen are now passing on, I feel the loss of each as though a little bit of myself was being worn away. My co-author suggested that this blog shouldn’t be so much about my loss, but the world’s loss of a great woman. I agree with her, so I’ll tear myself away from my impulse to keep venting about all the significant people of my formative years that are leaving us.

In 1955 Jill Kinmont Boothe was the national women’s slalom champion, about to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Olympic ski team. The week she was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, she fell during a race, crashed into a tree, and broke her neck. She was paralyzed below her shoulders. She was only 18 years old at the time.

Medical options for spinal injuries were limited in 1955. Ms. Kinmont had the use of neck and shoulder muscles and learned to write, type, and paint with the aid of a hand brace. But she spent the rest of her life in a wheelchair. The two movies about her life depicted her injury and recovery, but the important part of her life story was that she lived beyond the limits of her injury and beyond the limits society tried to impose. Her life didn’t stop with that 1955 crash, although it would have been so easy for her to give up.

Jill Kinmont graduated from UCLA with degrees in German and English. UCLA rejected her application to the school of education, deciding that her physical problems meant she could never be a teacher. Thirty years before the American’s with Disabilities Act of 1990 was enacted, Ms. Kinmont had to fight for the education and profession of her choice. She graduated from the University of Washington and began teaching remedial reading. But even after proving her value as an educator, some school districts wouldn’t hire her.

It would have been so easy for her to have given up, but she didn’t. She led a long, rich life. She had 57 more years after that crash in 1955. She made the most of them. She lived, not an ordinary life, but an extraordinary one. I applaud her.


Brianna Sullivan Mysteries – e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries- Kindle (Exclusive at Amazon this month)
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah- KindleNookSmashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah- KindleNookSmashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- KindleNookSmashwords
A Haunting in Lottawatah – KindleNookSmashwords
Lottawatah Twister – KindleNookSmashwords
Missing in Lottawatah – KindleNookSmashwords
Good Grief in Lottawatah – KindleNookSmashwords

Sullivan Investigations Mystery – e-book series
Murder Off the Books KindleNookSmashwords
Murder Takes the Cake KindleNookSmashwords
Riley Come Home (short story)- KindleNookSmashwords
Moonlighting at the Mall (short story) – KindleNookSmashwords

Love Lessons – KindleNookSmashwords

3 replies
  1. Maureen Hayes
    Maureen Hayes says:

    Thank you for this important post. I must be the same age as you because I grew up with Jill's story as well and felt inspired as you did. Now, facing chronic illness and some serious struggles of my own, it is empowering to hear how she continued to battle against the limitations her accident could have caused. Thank you for reminding me of her story and her strength.

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