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Columbia Missourian

Wilford D. Kemper, 77, dedicated car salesman and enthusiast, loved family

By Jeong An Choi
February 12, 2013 | 6:31 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Wilford D. Kemper had a strong work ethic and was diligent, attributes he learned during the Depression.

As a dedicated worker and father, Mr. Kemper worked in several occupations, including as a car salesman, at a gas station and at two printing presses.

Mr. Kemper died Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, in Columbia. He was 77.

He was born on Dec. 25, 1935, to Dewey and Nettie Lee (Breedlove) Kemper in their home in Boone County.

When Mr. Kemper was young, his family lived in Hallsville, Harrisburg, and Columbia. He graduated from Hickman High School.

After working for several years, Mr. Kemper opened Kemper’s Used Cars and Salvage. He operated the business for three decades. He also worked for American Press and Kelley Press, according to Gayle Baker, Mr. Kemper's daughter.

But Mr. Kemper's primary passion was cars.

“He loved cars,” Baker said. “That’s why he decided to open the used car business at home.”

Mr. Kemper married Betty (Page) Kemper in 1967. They met at a social.

As their only child, Baker remembers Mr. Kemper being around a lot during her childhood.

“We were very close,” Baker said. “He’d be with me when we’re going to pick up cars or when I’m playing in the garage. He was always to there to take care and be royal to family.”

“One thing he taught us was to be honest and keep promises,” Baker recalled. “It was also his life motto.”

Mr. Kemper and his wife liked to spend time with their friends. Mr. Kemper especially liked playing cards and watching NASCAR with neighbors.

In addition to listening to Connie Smith, his favorite country singer, and collecting old vehicles, Mr. Kemper enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren.

“They cooked, watched TV, and played games together,” Baker said.

"On behalf of Wilford Kemper and his family, we want to thank his neighbors and many friends for your love and support," Baker said.

Mr. Kemper is survived by his wife, Betty Kemper; a daughter, Gayle Baker of Columbia; three stepsons: John Page and his wife Carol of Columbia, Kerry Page and his wife Debbie of Oklahoma City,, and Malvin Page and his wife Brenda of Hallsville; sister, Alta Williams of Columbia; niece, Jane Ann Williams of Columbia; grandchildren Stephanie, Christopher, and Samantha Baker, all of Columbia, and four step-grandchildren.

There will be no service because Mr. Kemper and the family chose cremation, but there will be a gathering for friends and family to remember him at Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 West. The gathering will be from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday.

Online tributes can be made at