Gary R. Kempe of Bloomingdale passed away peacefully Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021 at Alexian Brothers Hospice Residence in Elk Grove Village surrounded by his loving family and friends.
Born Sept. 25, 1944 in Chicago, the son of Ralph and Norma (Peterson) Kempe, Gary was a Vietnam veteran with the United States Air Force who spoke little about his military experience in Nam but took pride in his service to country. On the day before he died, he found great pleasure in placing his new Vietnam Veteran hat that had just arrived in the mail atop his still-full head of hair.
Gary spent a successful career in electronics sales, and much of his free time in bowling alleys, where he threw one sanctioned perfect game and a couple of unofficial 300s. Gary, who excelled in sports as a teenager and even played baseball and flag football well into his 30s, is described by life-long friends as a “natural athlete” whose outgoing personality and sense of humor made him the “life of the party.”
But after getting hit with a chain of serious medical issues, including spinal and neck injuries, throat cancer, nerve damage and post-surgery scarring, Gary had to give up most of the activities he enjoyed. His deteriorating health, however, brought out another side of this multi-layered man, who turned quieter, more introspective, more accepting of life’s obstacles – no matter how unfair.
The more Gary went through, the more resolve he displayed in the face of such adversity. Even as he lost mobility and his voice weakened; even when he was no longer able to eat and drink normally, Gary still found joy in life. He was a voracious reader, devouring several books a week. He had a passion for music, especially classic rock, and he continued, even toward the end of his life, to make mixed tapes for those closest to him.
One thing that never changed was Gary’s love for his many friends and especially his daughter Tara, who he raised as a single dad, and who, along with son-in-law Patrick Crosby, gave him Grace, Jack and Reese, his three precious grandchildren who, even though he could never get down on the floor and play with them, loved him with an intensity matched only by his devotion to them.
Perhaps Gary’s life can most accurately be summed up by those who knew him best when they insist they never heard a negative thing about this man, who loved and lived with so much integrity and with so much courage.
Gary was preceded in death by his parents. In addition to his daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren of St. Charles, he is survived by siblings Niel Kempe of Bonita Springs, Florida and Jean Cain of Mesa, Arizona, as well as many dear relatives and friends.
Visitation for Gary will be Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, from 4 p.m. until the time of his funeral service at 7:30 p.m. at Malone Funeral Home, 324 E. State Street (Route 38) in Geneva. He will be honored with a military burial at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 18 at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, IL.
In lieu of flowers, memorials to the family would be appreciated.
For information 630-232-8233 or malonefh.com.
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