Official Website of the U.S. Marine Raider Association & Foundation

Select Page

Obituaries > KEMP, FRANK A., JR.

Frank Alexander Kemp died peacefully on April 8, 2013, at age 91 after a long illness. He was known for his quiet strength, integrity and generosity of spirit. He was a great Marine, a true man of the West, a loving husband, father and grandfather, and he will be missed by all who knew him. He is survived by his favorite companion and wife of 62 years, Polly Kemp, his two sons, Frank A. (Alec) Kemp and J. Hovey Kemp and his spouse Mary Ellen Kemp, and two grandsons, Matthew Kemp and Wilson Kemp. Frank was born in Denver on May 10, 1921. He attended East Denver High School and the Choate School, graduating from Yale University in 1942 where he was a member of the varsity football and rugby teams. Before graduation, he joined the United States Marine Corps and attended its officer’s training program in Quantico, Virginia. Frank completed the training in San Diego not long after graduation and was assigned to the Solomon Islands with the 4th Regiment, 4th Marines, where he became a Company commander in the famous 1st Marine Raider Battalion. Over the next three years, he participated in the battles of New Georgia, Guam (where he was elevated to Captain in the LST during the landing) and Okinawa. Highly decorated, Frank was awarded a Silver Star for “gallantry in action” in New Georgia in July 1943, “aggressively leading his company in a furious exchange of rifle fire with superior Japanese forces with such success that heavy casualties were inflicted on the enemy, driving them from three defensive positions.” He was also awarded two Bronze Stars, including one for “heroic achievement in action against the enemy” in Guam in 1944, “displaying complete disregard for his personal safety despite heavy enemy fire. Although his Company was in critical condition due to heavy losses, by his shrewd tactical handling of his command he so disposed his Company as to meet and repel the enemy.” He also received a Soldier’s Medal for saving three heavily-laden Marines from drowning after they each fell during a treacherous river crossing in New Georgia, as well as a gold star in lieu of a second Purple Heart. A serious shrapnel injury sustained in April 1945 on Okinawa led to his return to the States, where following months of military hospitals and rehabilitation, he worked on the football coaching staff at the U.S. Naval Academy until he resigned his USMC commission in 1947. Frank then returned to Denver and went to work for the Great Western Sugar Company where his father, Frank A. Kemp, Sr., was President, spending two years in various jobs with GW before leaving in 1949 to move up to Grass Range, Montana to work on the N Bar Ranch. It was during this stretch in Montana that Frank found his calling, writing to a close friend in 1949 that “Since giving up the soldiering in 1947, there have been two things which have been of great interest to me – politics and the livestock game….So I have gone into the cattle business the hard way, as a cowhand on one of the biggest outfits in Montana.” In 1950, a Basque sheepman from Wyoming, Paul Etchepare, convinced him to come back to Denver and work with him, and a short time later they formed the land and livestock firm of Etchepare & Kemp. For the next twelve years the partners bought, owned, sold and managed farms and ranches throughout the West and Northern Mexico. They operated feedlots and bought and sold wool, sheep, fattened lambs and cattle. Subsequently, Frank worked for a large feedlot operation and later became the manager of the farm and ranch department of a large Colorado real estate company. From the late seventies until he retired in the late nineties, Frank was self-employed as a ranch manager and appraiser of farm and ranch properties throughout the Rocky Mountain West. The highlight for him during these later years was the roughly ten years he spent managing a 100,000 +-acre ranch property near Medicine Bow in south central Wyoming. A lifelong but moderate Republican, Frank served in the Colorado State Legislature from 1960 through 1970, with three two-year terms in the Colorado General Assembly and one four-year term as a member of the Colorado State Senate. He was instrumental in the legislation that led to the founding of what is now Metropolitan State University in Denver. He ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1968, nearly unseating the 20-year incumbent in a Democratic city in the closest election since 1952. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Colorado Cattle Feeders Association and a member of the Colorado and American Societies of Farm and Ranch Managers and Rural Appraisers, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, the American National Cattlemen’s Association and the National Lamb Feeders Association. He also served on the Board of Trustees of the Colorado State Historical Society and was a member of the Hospital Executive council of St. Joseph’s Hospital. The Kemp family’s plans for services are pending. Remembrances may be given to the Denver Hospice or the charity of one’s choice.