Lester "Les" Kempf
Lester "Les" Kempf, 96, longtime Johnson County resident, passed away peacefully Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, at his home surrounded by loved ones.
Visitation will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15, t Lensing Funeral & Cremation Service. A parish rosary will begin at 3:30 p.m. Masks are required and social distancing practices will be in place.
Mass of Christian Burial will begin at
10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 16, at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Iowa City. The Rev. Gary Beckman will officiate.
Burial with military rites will follow in St. Joseph Cemetery in Iowa City.
Instead of flowers and plants, memorials may be directed to 4-H of Johnson County.
Born Dec. 6, 1924, in Washington Township in Johnson County, Iowa, Les was born to Emra and Barbara (Schlabaugh) Kempf. Les grew up in Iowa County.
Les was a decorated veteran, having served as a Master Sgt. in the U.S. Army Infantry from 1943 to 1952 in both World War II and the Korean War. In May of 2017, Les was honored on the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight. Together they adopted three children, Margo, John and Robert.
After serving in the army he worked as a contractor and met Mary Frances McCoy at a local lumber company where she worked. They later married on Nov. 13, 1952, at St. James Church in Washington, Iowa.
For over 27 years, he worked as a machinist for the University of Iowa, retiring in 1990. Les was very involved in 4H from 1966-2014, serving as superintendent of the Horse and Pony Division. He and Mary Frances were both inducted into the Iowa 4H Hall of Fame on Aug. 22, 2004. In 2011, he was recognized for 45 years of volunteer leadership. In May of 1989, Les participated in the UI Opera Theatre's production of "Carmen", at Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City, which was the first successful production to include live animals on the stage. He was also a charter member of the Johnson County Sheriff's Posse, serving in that capacity for 27 years.
Survivors include his children, Margo Kempf of Naples, Fla., Robert Kempf (Joan) of Solon and John Kempf (Carol) of Iowa City; eight grandchildren, Bobbie English, Nahida (Kurt) Brookhart, Caryn Bilodeau, TJ Kempf, Christine Kempf, Michael Kempf, Matthew Kempf and Aaron Kempf, many great-grandchildren; many great-great grandchildren; sister, Martha Justice of Cedar Rapids; sister-in-law, Ruth Kempf; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Mary, in 2011; brothers, Warren, Walter, Wayne, Russell and John; sisters, Alice Kempf, Dolores Kempf, Orpha Kempf and Olivia Kempf; brother-in-law, Virgil Justice; and sister-in-laws, Mary Kempf and Betty Kempf. Thoughts may be shared with the family at www.lensingfuneral.com.