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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Remembering Ernest Kimble: the Burger King legend


Ernest Kimble keeps an eye out for customers at his job at Burger King in San Marcos in Dec. 2018.

Ernest Kimble woke up around 5 a.m. every morning for over 30 years to walk to his job at Burger King in San Marcos. He was living in a Best Budget Inn and had medical issues such as bad eyesight and knee pain, but he never went to work without determination and a smile.
On Feb. 15, Kimble died at 57 years old.
The cause of Kimble’s death is currently unknown. For now and until a vigil can be organized, friends and former co-workers are remembering Kimble and his greatest moments. From cracking jokes to bonding from work gossip, Kimble was always known as the right-hand man at Burger King, even with all of the circumstances that he had encountered with 20-30-minute daily walks to work and 12-14-hour shifts.
“When I first started, Mr. Kimble was quiet and respectful, and he would goof around at times, but he was such a hardworking man,” Rae Carroll, Kimble’s former co-worker at Burger King, said. “You know, everyone has a story and I always wanted to know how he ended up in San Marcos, but I never asked because I didn’t want to put his head in a space where he didn’t want to be. It’s like Burger King was his getaway.”
In 2018, Kimble was nominated for assistance from Season for Caring, an organization within the Austin-American Statesman that allows readers to give to Central Texans in need. The organization utilizes Central Texas community service organizations to find people to help.
In 2018, Kristina Delgado, San Marcos resident and health specialist for Community Action Inc. of Central Texas, a non-profit organization that provides resources such as health care, education and job training, found out about Kimble and reached out to his managers to see how to help.
Kimble was awarded a year’s worth of rent in a new apartment in 2019. At work, he continued to uplift his co-workers.
“He never made you feel uncomfortable, he never made you feel bad and if you were having a bad day, he would do what he could do to make you feel better,” Jennifer Ruiz, Kimble’s former Burger King co-worker, said.
Kimble instilled golden friendships through laughter. Juan Yanez, another one of Kimble’s former co-workers at Burger King, believes that Kimble’s playful personality made it easier for the friendship to form into something special.
“We got so comfortable with each other like it was like I was talking to one of my best friends,” Juan said. “The things he does that makes you laugh and the things he says, especially when I brought my wife around, he’d be like, ‘oh, that’s my girl,’ and when he’d see my kids, he’d be like, ‘these are my kids.'”
Juan had been working for Burger King for about eight years when he realized that Burger King did not care for its employees as much as it did the money. Even after more than 30 years of working at the restaurant, Kimble was still making $8.75 an hour.
Kimble still provided exceptional service and an atmosphere that Juan felt Burger King was lacking.
“First thing in the morning, he would start joking,” Juan said. “With him there, that was the culture. Burger King doesn’t have any culture at all, it was like if you don’t show me numbers, we’re firing you. With him, it was like there was culture because everyone wanted to be around him and work with him and laugh with him.”
In early February, Kimble was terminated from Burger King for his bad eyesight. Mia Yanez, Kimble’s former co-worker at Burger King, knew about Kimble’s bad eyesight from the time she spent working with him, but believed it never interfered with his job performance.
Mia believes that Kimble’s bad eyesight was not the only reason for his termination.
“He was the only Black guy there,” Mia said. “They had actually brought in another Black guy, and he was saying to Kimble like ‘You bring a disgrace on us,’ and all kinds of ugly things. I was like ‘how could they do that to Kimble?’ he spent his entire life at Burger King and didn’t deserve any kind of that that they did to him.”
Kimble’s cause of death is unknown, but Mia believes that his termination from work took a big toll on him.
“He was still cooking bacon, he was still making breakfast, he was still getting the orders out regardless of what he could see on the screen,” Mia said. “I think if they were able to give him a little bit more help as an employee, he would still be able to be there. I don’t think his death was from a medical condition, I think it was a broken heart because he was let go from the place that he has worked for his entire life.”
Although Kimble’s death deeply upset Mia, she was delightfully surprised to see that her Facebook post sharing the news of Kimble’s death had received over 50 comments from people telling their memories of Kimble. San Marcos residents expressed their condolences and recalled seeing Kimble walking down I-35 to get to work. Former Burger King employees shared their memories of working with him.
Kimble’s former co-workers said his real family was not very present in his life, but the bonds created at Burger King formed a family like no other.
“He’s definitely not my family, but I have lost one of my greatest best friends,” Mia said. “Sometimes he would tell me ‘I don’t have nobody,’ and I would say ‘Kimble, I’m going to be there for you,’ so to see that he had people there for him, I’m thankful for. His memory will live on more than his family will be there for him and that’s one thing I’m grateful for — his memory will still be alive with us no matter what.”

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  • Ernest Kimble bonds with his co-workers at Burger King in San Marcos in Dec. 2018.

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