- About Us
Martin French Kemper beheld the face of his King and Savior at 5:30 pm on March 28, 2019. He passed peacefully through the veil into the arms of Jesus after fighting a valiant battle with ALS. Martin was born in Abilene, Texas on February 11, 1949 to Roy F. Kemper and Verla Joyce Perkins Kemper. His family moved to Coleman, Texas in 1954 where his father practiced medicine for many years. As Martin said in his final days, when he was about 13 years old, he “decided to follow Christ, walked the aisle, became a Christian and never looked back!” Martin married the love of his life, Karen Ann Cervenka, on June 21, 1969. Martin received his bachelor’s degree from McMurry University in 1972 and learned the electrical business from his father-in-law, Joe Cervenka. Martin worked as an electrician and supported Karen throughout medical school while their young family lived in Galveston, Texas and later moved to Temple, Texas during Karen’s residency. In 1986 the family settled in Abilene, Texas, where he opened a lighting store, Kemper Lighting, and Karen practiced pediatric medicine. They were active members of First Baptist Church, Abilene.
In 2001, Martin and Karen moved to Waco, Texas where they were members of Calvary Baptist and later Redeemer Presbyterian church. Martin was a deacon in each church. They developed many lifelong friendships at each church along the way. They also hold close to their heart friends they have made in Rico, Colorado, their home away from home.
For years Martin was an avid mountain biker and outdoorsman. He spent many hours on the trails in Cameron Park in Waco and constructed many of the hike and bike trails in Woodway Park. He was so passionate about the Woodway trails that he served on the Parks Board and was honored in 2017 for his service. He was a member of the Waco Bike Club, supporting many activities, hosting parties at his home, and entering various events. Martin’s other passion was birding. He became an incredible bird photographer, and could identify almost any bird and tell you all about it—its range, its habits and its songs. He participated in the Christmas Bird Count and was active in the Audubon Society.
His greatest passion was his family. He adored his children and took his role as mentor and example seriously. He enjoyed helping the grandchildren and was especially glad he could care for Ryland and Sterling during their early years. He was so proud of each one, and they in turn were a tribute to his loving example. He also doted on Karen and often said that all he wanted to do was “take care of her,” which he did with great affection.
Martin was preceded in death by his father, Roy F. Kemper, his mother Verla Joyce Perkins Kemper Horn, his stepfather, Cliff Horn, his sister, Susan Kemper and Joe and Claudean Cervenka, his in-laws. He is survived by his beloved wife Karen, his children Kelley, and husband Jeff Messer, Grant, and wife Jennifer Kemper, Ross Kemper, and Annaliese, and husband Will Scoggin. He is also survived by his precious and well-loved grandchildren, Kathlyn Messer, Melia Messer, Ryland Kemper, Sterling Kemper, Reid Messer, Guy Kemper, Giles Kemper, and one precious grandbaby on the way. He is also survived by his siblings Judia Terry, William “Kemp” Kemper, Alan Kemper, and Anita Calk and their spouses and a host of treasured nieces and nephews.
A celebration of Martin’s life will be held at Redeemer Presbyterian on Thursday, April 4th at 11:00 am. Martin will be laid to rest at Cedar Gap Cemetery south of Abilene on Friday, April 5th at 2:00 pm. Visitation will be at Grace Gardens Funeral Home on Woodway Drive on Wednesday, April 3rd from 5:00-7:00 pm. Memorials in his name may be made to the Redeemer Presbyterian Church Make Room Fund, ALS Association, the Audubon Society, or the Waco Bike Club.
11:00 AM ,Thursday, April 4, 2019
2:00 PM ,Friday, April 5, 2019
Cedar Gap Cemetery
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM ,Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Grace Gardens Funeral Home Chapel
8220 Woodway Drive Waco, Texas 76712