Longtime community volunteer, Bill Kemp, dies at 83
By Dennis Hill
Published in News on November 1, 2006 1:45 PM
William Powell Kemp Jr., a leading Goldsboro business and civic leader, died today at Kitty Askins Hospice Center.
He was 83.
Kemp built Kemp Furniture Co. into one of Wayne County’s leading businesses. He was a former president of the Southern Furniture Manufacturer’s Association, a member of the North Carolina Hospital Board, chairman of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce, president of the United Fund, now the United Way, president of the Tuscarora Council of the Boy Scouts of America and chairman of the Red Cross Board.
Kemp, a Maryland native who was a champion wrestler in high school, served in the North Carolina Legislature for two terms in the 1950s and was a member of the Wayne County Board of Education.
He was awarded the Silver Beaver Award by the Boy Scouts — the highest honor bestowed by the organization. Earlier this year, he was awarded the Cornerstone Award by the Wayne County Chamber for his contributions to the community.
“We’re all going to miss Bill. He was a giant of a man,” said John Thompson, a former employee and longtime friend. “He influenced a lot of lives, epecially with the work he did in scouting.”
Wes Seegars, the chairman of the state Wildlife Commission, said Kemp was a leader in the true sense of the word. No one ever gave more to Goldsboro and Wayne County, Seegars said.
“There were very few men like that, to quietly, quietly go about having that kind of influence on men who have been so successful in their lives,” Seegars said today. Kemp helped many young men in Wayne earn their Eagle Scout awards, Seegar noted, and had said that one of the highlights of his life was taking a group of Eagle Scouts on a three-month bicycle tour of Europe.
Kemp was keen on education, friends said. He helped local teachers expand their horizons, and those of their students, by helping fund summer trips abroad.
He was one of the early supporters of Mount Olive College and was instrumental in developing the college’s present campus. Dr. Burkette Raper, the college’s founder, was out of town and could not be reached for comment today, but his wife described Kemp as “a tremendous supporter of the college.”
Kemp also was active in the restoration of Old Waynesborough and was named the president of the Old Waynesborough Commission earlier this year.
Lloyd Massey, a former president of the group, said Kemp’s dedication helped make the historical site a success.
“Bill was very energetic and very liberal in his support of Waynesborough,” Massey said. “Anything that needed to be done, Bill would see that it would be done.
“He is going to be missed terribly.”
Kemp is survived by his wife, Betty, and three children, William Kemp III, Sallie Kemp and Betsy Neese.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by Seymour Funeral Home.
A memorial service will be held Sunday at 3 p.m. at Goldsboro Friends Church.
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