ENGLEWOOD — The Northmont area lost one its best and brightest leaders Monday with the passing of former Englewood Mayor Ed Kemper, 74. He died at Hospice of Dayton with his family at his side.
A gathering of family and friends will be held at the Englewood Government Center, 333 W. National Rd., on Friday, November 20 from 4-8 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Paul Catholic Church.
Kemper leaves a legacy of inexhaustible involvement in community affairs and was the very definition of a ‘good citizen.’ A resident of Englewood for more than 40 years, he served the community in many ways with a can-do attitude and positive approach to every endeavor.
He began his public service career in the 1970s by serving on the Englewood Planning Commission, the Englewood Environmental Commission, the Park Levy Committee and the Christmas Committee. In 1977, he won a seat on city council. He became vice mayor in 1979 and was then appointed mayor in 1980 and served in that capacity until 1998.
While serving as mayor, he was instrumental in creating two on-going city programs. In 1981, he founded the Englewood Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, bringing the Northmont community together to break bread and count its blessings as friends and neighbors and to celebrate the joy of living in this community. In 1983, Kemper discovered that a small town in Germany also had a mayor by the name of Kemper. He contacted Hermann Kemper, and the Englewood/Billerbeck Sister City relationship was born. This organization continues to thrive, benefitting over 400 youth through the Youth Exchange program and creating lasting bonds on both sides of the Atlantic.
Kemper was also a long-time member of the Englewood Festival and Arts Commission, president and founding member of the Ohio National Road Association since 2000, a member of the Randolph Township Historical Society from its inception, active on the St. Paul Catholic Church Parish Council and a member of the St. Paul Knights of Columbus, past president of the Northmont Jaycees, a volunteer for the Dayton Physicians Group in the Infusion Center at Good Samaritan North Health Center for seven years, served as assistant to the Montgomery County Commissioners for five years, and a 10 year member in the Army Reserve achieving the rank of Captain.
He also wrote a weekly column for the Englewood Independent in the late 70s and early 80s called ‘In My Neighborhood’ that highlighted local people, events, activities and projects by local civic organizations.
According to a tribute to Kemper on the City of Englewood’s website, “If ever there was a man more deserving of the name ‘Mr. Englewood,’ it was, beyond a doubt, former Mayor Ed Kemper. In the dedication statement of the Prayer Breakfast program, a line still exists that exemplifies Ed Kemper: “the unselfish giving of our time, talents and resources for the common good.” It wasn’t simply sweat equity that set Ed apart, though. It was his incomparable positive outlook. His activities weren’t done to build a resume’; they were done out of genuine passion and zest, and moreover, they were done with kindness and goodwill. Inside his campaign literature for his first City Council election is a statement from a supporter which sums up what Ed meant to this community: “Every community should have an Ed Kemper. A man eager to serve us in city government, a friend and a rare citizen.”
He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Alma, three children, Joe, John and Kevin Kemper and eight grandchildren.
“The City of Englewood has suffered a profound loss. There are times when you just know the climate will never be the same again,” said Eric Smith, Englewood city manager. “Ed and I worked professionally together for the 18 years that he was mayor and in all the years since on various projects he championed on behalf of the city. The Sister City Club and Prayer Breakfast are but a couple of his initiatives. Creating our independent fire department in 1998 was one of many major achievements. I’ve always contended Ed led two, perhaps three lives, because he was always in high gear; enough to wear down at least two people.
“Ed was a dedicated public servant, a fantastic leader, a great example to others and my very good friend,” Smith added. “I always referred to him as the ‘Ol Man’ and he called me the ‘BG’ (Big Guy). He sported a gentle, ‘down home’ sense of humor. Everybody had a nickname. I respected Ed enormously as a friend and colleague. He loved Englewood and everybody that knew him loved Ed.”