Born in Henderson, Kentucky on February 26, 1882. Kimmel was one of seven children of Marius Manning and Sibbella Lambert Kimmel. The family home was at 512 North Green Street (a state historical plaque marks the spot).
He went through his formative school years in Henderson and graduated Valedictorian of his class at Henderson High School at age 16.
The future Commander of the Pacific Fleet and some friends once capsized a sailboat and had to be fished out of the Ohio River just off Henderson's banks.
It is said that because of this incident, he almost refused his appointment to the Naval Academy. Kimmel's wife, Dorothy, was the daughter of Admiral Thomas W. Kinkaid.
The couple had three sons, Manning, Thomas, and Edward ("Ned"). All three sons served in the Navy during WWII. Manning, a submarine commander, died during the war. Admiral Kimmel died in Groton, Connecticut, May 14, 1968 at age 86.