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2121 Grand Ave
Des Moines, IA 50312
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James D. Kempkes

1924 - 2013 Obituary Condolences
James D. Kempkes Obituary
James D. Kempkes


James D. Kempkes, age 88, died March 6 of respiratory failure at Deerfield Retirement Community in Urbandale.

Visitation will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 13, at Iles Funeral Homes-Dunn's Chapel. A Memorial Service will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 14, at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Des Moines with burial at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery near Van Meter.

Jim was born on December 8, 1924, in Everett, WA, to Matthew and Helen (Dunlap) Kempkes, and, from the age of ten, grew up in Pella, where he was better known as "Peely." Enlisting in the Navy at age eighteen in 1942, he was commissioned as a lieutenant (j.g.) after finishing 3rd in a class of 350, serving mostly overseas during World War II with the Seabees in Tinian and Okinawa. He was 6th in the 1947 graduating class of Central College, where he earned an honors degree in mathematics, played in the band, captained the football team, and received the team's most valuable player award. He married Marian Brown of Meservey in 1948 and began living in Pleasantville, where she taught high school biology and he hitchhiked to his law classes at Drake University. After obtaining his law degree in 1949 he moved with Marian to Des Moines to enter a career in banking despite passing exams to become an actuary. He worked as a lawyer for Iowa-Des Moines National Bank and its successor Norwest Bank, eventually heading the trust department. His retirement from the bank as senior vice president in 1986 allowed him to join Marian in operating their Pella business, Menning Imports, before they sold it. He was a member of the Iowa State Bar Association for more than fifty years. He served as an elder and finance committee member at Westminster United Presbyterian Church, helped with scout programs and Y Indian Guides, and served as President of the Des Moines Society of Financial Analysts. He also served as a charter board member and chair of the Des Moines Skywalk Commission, as a board member of Junior Achievement, and as a board member of the Iowa Trust Association. Most recently, he served as a director for the Iowa Methodist Hospital Foundation. He was awarded dozens of medals at the Iowa Games and at the Iowa Senior Olympics for swimming, track and field, horseshoe pitching, and basketball shooting, and in 2007 was inducted into the Iowa Senior Olympics Hall of Fame. For years he regularly swam laps at the Walnut Creek YMCA and traveled around the state to participate in horseshoe tournaments.

He was preceded in death by Marian, who died last October, and by four half-siblings: Adriana, Tudor, Elisabeth, and Josephine. He is survived by four sons: Mark and his daughter Stacey of Des Moines; Bruce, his wife Jill, and their son Graeme of rural Earlham; David and his sons Tyler and Dylan of Des Moines; and Brian, his wife Sheri, and their daughter Katelyn of Johnston. He is also survived by Carol Kempkes and her son Marc Gregor, Angel Kempkes, and David's friend Sharon Norris.

Memorial contributions may be directed to Hospice of Central Iowa or Westminster Church. Online condolences can be shared at



Published in Des Moines Register from Mar. 10 to Mar. 12, 2013
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