Tom Sharpe Educator, native-seed pioneer, Hopi-prophecy interpreter and former Santa Fe resident John Kimmey died from cancer last month in Crestone, Colo. He was 71.

Cremation has taken place but a memorial reception is planned for 1 p.m. May 15 at the New Buffalo Compound in Arroyo Hondo north of Taos.

Kimmey was born on March 29, 1940, in Portland, Ore., to Hazel and James Kimmey, who later moved to the Bay Area of California.

In high school, John Kimmey was active in theater and music, later performing as a drummer with jazz musicians. He served in the Navy in Japan and the Philippines.

In 1965, he moved to New Mexico and obtained teaching certification from the College of Santa Fe in 1967. The next year, Kimmey, wife Marie, Charlie Bentley and Ed Nagel founded the Santa Fe Community School.

In an interview in The New Mexican in 1994, the late Matthew Schwartzman recalled how a fundraiser for Kimmey's school in the 1960s was broken up by the police at the behest of then-Municipal Judge R.E. "Cuate" Chavez, who feared "there was going to be this big hippie be-in and the girls would get naked."

In 1972, Kimmey helped start Taos Learning Centers. In the early 1980s, he taught at the Hopi Nation's Hotvilla-Bacavi Community School on the Third Mesa in Arizona, where he developed an interest in Hopi prophecies through his mentor, David Montongye. Kimmey traveled to New Zealand, Mexico and Canada to talk about the prophecies and wrote two books about them, Light on the Return Path: A Spiritual Survival Manual and The Jack Hopper Trilogy: The Story of a Coyote's Success.

In 2000, the Hopi Nation asked Kimmey to stop telling non-Indians about their prophecies because they are sacred, secret information that should be controlled by the Hopis. Kimmey responded that Montongye and other elders who had given him permission to deliver the prophecies to whites were all dead, so, "I've got a bunch of ghosts to support me, and that's about all."

During the 1980s, while at the Southwest Learning Centers, Kimmey and Seth Roffman founded the Talavaya Center near Española to conserve native agricultural crops by propagating seeds grown for centuries in New Mexico. They developed a seed bank of more than 600 heirloom varieties. In 1985, the United Nations honored him for his efforts in preserving traditional agriculture.

Kimmey returned to Taos in 1987 to found the Sustainable Native Agriculture Center. He traveled to the Northwest to continue his work with native crops, as well as continuing to talk about Hopi prophecies.

In 2004, he moved to Hawaii, where he learned about Huna ceremonial and Buddhist healing practices. After returning to Santa Fe for several years, he moved to Crestone two years ago.

Kimmey is survived by his companion, Marion Harris; his sister, Joan Crowder; three children, Sean Kimmey, Heather Anderson and Erin Kimmey; seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

For more information about the memorial reception at New Buffalo, call 575-779-0059.

Contact Tom Sharpe at 986-3080 or tsharpe@sfnewmexican.com.

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