NEW ALBANY — Several successful people have graduated from New Albany High School during the school's illustrious history. Few, however, had the international impact that Steve Kime had during his military career.
Kime, a retired captain in the United States Navy, was the defense attaché to Russia from 1983-85, his second stint in the country. He served as assistant naval attaché to the Soviet Union from 1971-73.
"He was in the Soviet Union when Americans were not real popular," said his son, Carl Kime, himself a retired U.S. Marine captain. "He was part of the national security team that helped bring a successful, peaceful end to the Cold War and to put a strategy together to help Russia through it. I can't imagine too many people from New Albany to have that kind of international input."
Kime, a member of New Albany High School's first Hall of Fame class who was living in Fairfax, Va., died unexpectedly Oct. 9 from cardiac arrest while playing golf. He was 76 years old.
Kime spent 27 years in the Navy and besides his time as the defense attaché to Russia, he had a distinguished military career which included serving as director of the department of U.S. and International Studies at the United States Naval Academy. He also taught at the National War College, Georgetown University and American University.
Kime was one of 10 children and a 1958 graduate of New Albany High School. According to his family, he was encouraged by a high school teacher to take college preparatory classes and apply for a Navy ROTC scholarship to the University of Louisville.
It proved to be good advice.
Kime graduated from the University of Louisville in 1962 and was commissioned into the Navy submarine force the same year. He served aboard diesel boats before transitioning to the naval intelligence field. He attended Harvard University, where he earned a masters in public administration and a doctorate in Soviet studies, which led him to his first stint to Moscow in 1971. After finishing his duties as the defense attaché, Kime worked as deputy director, Navy Politico-Military Policy and Current Plans at the Pentagon before moving on to the Naval Academy as director of International Studies.
Despite his many professional successes, Carl Kime said his father never forgot his roots. He said he remembers making many trips to New Albany as a child during the holidays. He said his dad visited New Albany about a month before his death.
"He was a typical Midwesterner. He didn't whine about anything. He got up and worked hard every day," Carl said. "His dad worked for the railroad and he grew up in a small house and was the first to go to college and move away."
But he never forgot his hometown.
"Pretty much all the time," Carl said when asked if his dad still talked about New Albany. "How he grew up had an influence on how he approached life."
Following his retirement from the Navy in 1989, Kime served as president of Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges, a consortium that helps enlisted personnel and officers earn advanced degrees. Kime was responsible for expanding the program from 574 colleges and universities to more than 1,720 in less than five years, his family said.
"I am really proud of the job he did there," Carl said.
The International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame called him a “visionary and promoter of the use of technology to assist service members in accessing adult and continuing education.”
Kime's awards include the Department of Defense Legion of Merit and the Medal for Distinguished Public Service and the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame in 2004. He was inducted into the New Albany High School Hall of Fame in 2007.
Besides his son Carl, he is survived by his wife Wilma Snook Kime, also a native of New Albany along with three other children, Barrett Kime, Lauren Cacela and Stephanie Schroeder, nine grandchildren and numerous relatives in New Albany and elsewhere, including a sister, Mary Anne Brown.
"My dad was a patriot," Carl said. "He instilled in me service above self."