(July 30, 2001)
Benhard Hugo Kemper, 81, of Payson, Ariz., passed away July 30, 2001 at the Payson Care Center due to complications of a recent stroke.
Mr. Kemper was born Nov. 19, 1919 in Powell, the son of Fred Kemper and Beulah Hood Kemper. He was raised on a farm in the Powell area and graduated from Powell High School in 1938. He enlisted in the Marine Corps, went to flight school and became a pilot in the Marine Corps attached to eight different aircraft carriers in the South Pacific during World War II. Several carriers to which he was attached were sunk, but Ben always made it to another carrier or an island in the South Pacific theater. He was truly an unsung hero of World War II.
Ben married Betty Davies of Cody. They had six children: DiAnn, Bill, Bob, Kathy, Susie and Dennis. After spending 10 years in the service he attended Oregon State where he earned a degree in horticulture. Ben owned and operated an orchard in Parkdale, Ore. for many years. After a divorce in the early 1970s, he married Beatrice White of Parkdale, Ore. They retired to Payson, Ariz., in the late 1970s.
Ben was active in the Moose Lodge, Masons and the Marine Corps Veterans unit in Tonto Basin, Ariz.
Ben enjoyed his neighbors in Payson, properly pruned their trees, and, patriot that he was, placed many lighted flag poles in Payson and elsewhere. Ben loved to dance and frequented the country-western dances around Payson.
Survivors include his five children of Oregon, his only living sister Evelyn Onstine of Powell, his five Onstine nieces, Sharon, Shirley, Susan, Charla and Mary, and long-time friend Helen Hill of Payson, Ariz. He was preceded in death by his parents, sister Mary Ellen, brother Fred, son Bill and the man he most loved in his life, "Chuck" Onstine.
Ben often in later years expressed a desire to live to see the year 2000. He certainly got his wish. Ben recently stated that he was "rich only in memories that were unavailable at any price." Those of us who knew him are proud to have been a part of his memories.
Cremation has taken place and no services are planned per his request. Should friends desire, memorials may be made to the Moose Lodge, American Legion in Payson, Ariz., VFW in Powell or the Mason Lodge, Hood River, Ore.