Richard Kimmel grew up in Nebraska City and graduated from high school there in 1915. He left Nebraska to complete his education and after service in World War I, returned to work in banking. In 1925 he established the Kimmel Orchard in the rolling hills near Nebraska City and managed Kimmel Farms located a few miles west, started in the 1850s by his grandfather, John.
Lauarine Oetgen also grew up in Nebraska City with the Kimmel family as neighbors. She attended the University of Nebraska in Lincoln where she developed a love for art and painting. It was no surprise when she and Richard married shortly after he started the orchard.
Even as she worked alongside Richard to build Kimmel Orchard, Laurine continued to perfect her painting and gained national recognition for her series of water color paintings titled, “American Architecture,” depicting old outhouses. She remained active as a leader in the community, her painting and work with the orchard until her death in 1993 at the age of 92.
The establishment of the orchard marked the beginning of a rich and innovative agricultural tradition in the Nebraska City area. What started as a simple roadside fruit stand grew to be a favorite destination for those seeking a slice of country life in the Missouri River Valley.
In 2005, Kimmel Orchard in cooperation with the University of Nebraska built the Kimmel Education and Research Center which extends the UNL campus into the heart of Southeast Nebraska. The center houses research facilities, a food laboratory, meeting rooms and offices.