In Memory

Benjamin 'Ben' Kemper - Class Of 1933

A child of the Depression, Bernard J. "Ben" Kemper taught himself public relations and newsletter writing. His life's journey introduced him to movie stars and recording artists. Mr. Kemper, 87, died September 22, 2002 of congestive heart failure at Caruth Haven Court retirement home in Dallas. 

"Ben was an excellent writer," said friend Liz Pippin-Lund of Bisbee, Arizona. "He had a flair." Mr. Kemper was well-read and loved to travel and entertain. "He was a great gourmet chef and had the best dinner parties in the world," said Ms. Pippin-Lund, a friend since 1969 and a onetime co-worker. "He was also a great animal lover." Mr. Kemper was also a social butterfly who escorted older women to social events in Dallas for many years, Ms. Pippin-Lund said.

Born December 13, 1914 in Omaha, Nebraska, Mr. Kemper moved as a baby with his family to Chicago, where his father was an inventor. When Mr. Kemper was 9, his father committed suicide. He and his mother moved to Southern California, where they lived with relatives. Mr. Kemper began his long career during the Great Depression, building fire breaks and fighting forest fires in the San Bernardino Mountains for the Civilian Conservation Corps. He managed to get a mailroom job at Paramount Pictures in Hollywood, using connections his mother had at the studio. After several months at Paramount, Mr. Kemper got approval to put out an employee newsletter, Paramount Parade, about the company's everyday workers, or as he liked to say, the B list. His writing won him a position in the studio's publicity department, where he handled publicity for B movies. Mr. Kemper next worked for the New York Daily News before taking a publicity job at RCA Victor Records, now Bertelsmann Music Group. At RCA Victor, Mr. Kemper met many stars of the era, including Tommy Dorsey. At RCA Victor, Mr. Kemper developed a love for classical music and jazz and had an extensive music collection, friends said.

Mr. Kemper next worked in public relations for the National Association for Retarded Children in New York and was editor of the group's newsletter, Mental Retardation News. He moved to Texas in 1969 when the organization moved to Arlington. The group is now known as ARC of the United States and is based in Silver Spring, Maryland. When Mr. Kemper retired, he held a number of jobs, just to keep life interesting. He eventually became night concierge at the Meadowstone Place retirement community in Dallas. He also wrote a newsletter for Meadowstone. He retired in 1998. Mr. Kemper leaves no immediate survivors.

Dallas Morning News, September 27, 2002