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Roy Leon Kemp
28 Sep 1914 - 02 Apr 2011
© Davis Funeral Home
Reprinted with permission

Roy Leon Kemp, 96, was born September 28, 1914 west of Shamrock, OK and died April 2, 2011 in Cushing.

His parents were Ralph L. Kemp and Lillie Mae Faires Kemp.

He attended school in Cushing, Oklahoma and graduated in 1933.

He worked in the oilfields and later enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and served at Ft. Leavenworth, Missouri, before being released for medical reasons.

He met the love of his life, Martha Elizabeth Ernst, and they were married in Cushing, OK, October 17, 1941, having been married over 69 years.

When Roy was about 12 years old the street on the north side of the Cushing Hospital was being paved. He had a pop stand on the corner and sold about 3 cases of pop in one day.

In 1934 he worked for Lacy Chevrolet fixing flats for $4 a week.

In 1936, Martha was visiting relatives in Springerville, Arizona. Roy called her and ended the conversation with “I love you”, and then was disconnected. An hour later the telephone operator called Roy to tell him Martha said “I love you, too.” In 1937, Roy drove to Arizona to visit Martha on very early highway roads.

While driving through Amarillo, he picked up the grandson of John Philip Sousa, who was hitchhiking, and dropped him off at Albuquerque.

In his day, oil wells were shot with nitroglycerin and he often used it himself.

In September of 1945 Roy was up a derrick and the mast pole fell on him and he fell 60’ to the ground and broke his right arm.

In 1946, Roy wanted to start his own oilfield business and tried to borrow money with no collateral. After being denied a loan from several banks in Cushing and Tulsa, he was standing on the sidewalk in front of the bank at Drumright, OK, dressed in his best Sunday suit. The president of the bank, Coyne Sellers, came out the bank’s door and asked what he was doing. The president was acquainted with him, having watched him work for others on oil leases. After Roy told him of what he wanted, the president took Dad into the bank and gave him two blank checks. Roy bought his first rig for $15,000 and thus, began Kemp Cable Tools. Roy was able to pay back that loan $1000 a month until paid in full. Martha kept the books for the business and they worked side by side for over 50 years.

Kemp’s concern for the City of Cushing dates back to the early 1950’s when the city experienced a drought after its water supply was polluted. That’s when the first water well was drilled. Roy drilled the first well at his own expense and later managed the 12 water wells for the City of Cushing at no cost for several years.

Roy entered politics by running for city council in 1956. He served the community of Cushing for 32 years, serving several times as mayor. He always maintained an honorable record of service and insisted that others in city government do the same. His “watchdog” approach to city expenditures and projects always proved beneficial to the community, both ethically and financially.

Roy and Martha spent 30 years gradually buying property on both sides of a 50’ lot across from the Cushing Hospital from where Kemp was raised and later sold the property to the hospital.

Kemp started the Payne County Guidance Center and worked for years with the Payne County Industrial Trust, having once served as its president.

He was a member of the First United Methodist Church and initiated the idea of locating property for its present location and contributing to its purchase.

Kemp was inducted into the Cushing High School Hall of Fame in 1995. He and Martha were awarded the “Citizens of the Year” by Cushing Chamber of Commerce in 2005.

Roy was a fervent Republican and lived a very conservative life. He has shown an exceptional love and loyalty to his beloved Cushing and worked diligently for its prosperity. His motto for years has been “Cushing, My Home Town.” Kemp has been a valuable part of the Cushing community, devoting countless hours and finances to community projects and serving on numerous boards.

Roy passionately loved animals, especially dogs. He had many dogs throughout his life, including taking dog food out to his oil leases to feed any stray dogs. He always tried to find a good home for any stray dogs that found their way to him.

Roy is survived by his wife, Martha, of the home; two daughters – Linda Chapman and husband Tom, Lawton, OK, and Susan Kemp, Cushing; 3 grandchildren - Shelly Wymer and husband Rod, Bedford, TX, Robert Chapman, Irving, TX, and Elizabeth Garone and husband Doug, Edmond; 4 great-grandchildren – Haley Martin, Laurel Garone, Erica Garone and Nathan Garone; a nephew, Dr. Joe Ernst, St. Louis, MO and a host of relatives and friends.

Funeral services will be held on Thursday, April 7, 2011 at 2:00 P.M. in the First United Methodist Church with Reverend Sonja Tobey officiating.

Burial will follow in the Fairlawn Cemetery.

Serving as pallbearers are Stewart Arthurs, Frank Denney, Dale Holmes, Mo Sherman, Kent Burris, Jim Wasson, David Reid and Arthur Gerfen.

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