Born on the family farm southeast of Botha, Art Kempf will be marking an amazing milestone next month.
Now living at the Royal Oak Village in Lacombe, Kempf will be celebrating his 100th birthday on Feb. 22nd.
His daughter Joyce Laughlin, who lives in Blackfalds, said that her dad once told her that his own father had once told him, ‘The other guy has got to live too’. In other words, it’s just not an option to not lend a helping hand whenever you can.
You have to help out your neighbours.
“That’s his philosophy and he was always, always helping other people,” she explained. “He also always believed in hard work – he’s definitely an example of how hard work doesn’t kill anybody,” she added with a chuckle. “And he’s always been a giver.”
Kempf, who was also born on the family farm, ran the operation for 68 years.
And according to Laughlin, it was during those years that he sold a Percheron and Belgian cross horse that was the highest priced horse at the Stettler house sale that year.
“Dad also had a dairy and showed purebred Holsteins at Edmonton and Calgary, winning many awards with his show string.”
Kempf also travelled to Seattle to a scientific breeding school and later became president of the Stettler Artificial Insemination Association for nine years.
On July 8th, 1945 he married Lillian Tuck, and after a few years, Joyce, Mary Lou and Diane rounded out the family.
Joyce, who was born in Stettler, explained that her dad has always been very community-minded – a natural outflow of his desire to help others.
He and Lillian were very active in the Botha Square Dance Club for years.
And on the political side, Art served as a County of Stettler councillor for 16 years. He also served as deputy reeve for several years as well.
Joyce said that he was also on the hospital board while the facility was being built, as well as the school board.
“He was very respected and dedicated to his constituents.”
He also knows how to have fun. “Dad loved to curl with his neighbours and brother and won many bonspiels including the Challenge Stettler Bonspiel.”
He and Lillian were adventurous also when it came to travelling over the years, heading to such locales as Hawaii, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Arizona, California, Alaska, Costa Rica, Niagara Falls, and the Vancouver Expo.
Art also loved to fish, and one of the biggest highlights came when he caught a sail fish while deep sea fishing in Mexico, said Joyce.
“He loved going fishing with his buddies – when the work was done of course,” explained Joyce. “When his eyesight began to fail, I was incredibly lucky to be able to take him fishing at Blood Indian Dam. We had to be there early in the morning to get the best spots because he knew where they would bite.
”Those were great times, but he never did convince me it was for me!”
Looking further back to her own childhood days, she said her dad could be stern when he needed to be, but really he was always a marshmallow underneath. “He really is.”
He currently resides at the Royal Oak in Lacombe where he is very well respected by staff and has made friends with the residents. The pandemic has of course sadly gotten in the way of family visits.
“I can’t see him these days, but I talk to him every day,” said Joyce, adding that her dad has always led a very healthy life, which has no doubt contributed to his longevity.
As to the big day coming up, whether or not they can see him in person depends on the shifting pandemic restrictions. But the family does have a few surprises in store for their beloved father.
“The staff at Royal Oak are also just amazing – they’ve been asking him what his favourite meals are. I know the recreation people there and some of the nurses, and they’ve got big plans for him!
“He keeps telling me, ‘They keep asking me all these questions so I know they are up to something – but I don’t know what they are doing’,” she added with a laugh.
“We just want him to have fun on his birthday!”