Kemper Military School’s Standard of Honor refuses to fade away. Long after the school itself closed, the Kemper Military School Alumni Association is embarking on the 175th celebration of the school on October 17-20 during the annual Kemper Alumni Weekend event. Not only is this a celebration of history, but a future ripe with an undying legacy.
In 2002, the Kemper Military School Alumni Association met uncharted territory when Kemper Military School lowered its flag for the last time. The alumni association refused to accept defeat, let alone a scenario where the memory of Kemper would be of a school that “used to exist.” And 17 years after the closure the memory and legacy continues to flourish.
“In 2002, when Kemper closed its doors the alumni Association made a commitment to Boonville and the alumni that we would not close our doors, but continue to honor the legacy set down by many generations before us. We did this by continuing to hold reunions and collecting memorabilia for a one-day future museum,” stated Kemper Alumni Vice President Laura Gramlich.
Perseverance was key, taking ‘Nunquam Non Paratus,’ Kemper’s moto “Never not prepared,” very seriously.
“My fellow board members and I hold KMS with the highest respect, honor and standards that have guided us year after year. We have made tremendous moves to cement our legacy and return Kemper Military School and College to her rightful place in history, as one of the top-ranking Military campuses,” stated Douglas Humpherey, Kemper Military School Alumni Association’s outgoing president.
Over the years, the alumni Association has partnered with Wentworth Military Academy and State Fair Community College at the Kemper campus to award scholarships to students who embody the same principles instilled by F.T. Kemper. Scholarships are also awarded to students with the JROTC program that is now being administered at the Boonslick Technical Education Center.
A dream of having a permanent place to showcase the thousands of items that portray Kemper history is being realized during the 175th celebration. While items have been on display, both at Wentworth and at the Boonville Tourism Rails and Trails Museum, the alumni has pursued a building that would be permanent. Now, after years of trial, tribulation and hope, a permanent home for these items will be open to the public in the old Palace Building on at 323 Main Street—once owned by the late Pam Davis.
“We are so pleased to have the support of the city and Mayor Ned Beach. The association is excited to be working directly with citizens of Boonville and look forward to a long partnership.” stated James Hallam, Kemper Alumni Association’s incoming president.
Gramlich stated the alumni looks forward to the support of their new building.
“Our building will need some Renovations and there is much work to be done, but I believe our alumni will support our endeavor and we look forward to the exciting future,” stated Gramlich. “Wentworth has agreed to assist us in setting up our museum and we have a great partnership with them. When their school announced they were closing we extended our help to them.”
While being archrivals Wentworth learned a lot from Kemper. It was only time until that rival became a close friendship through difficult times.
“They used our example of what to do to survive the closing and what not to waste time on. They quickly established their museum and are now helping us with establishing ours. We will continue to give out scholarships and hope to expand it to additional schools,” she stated.
Kemper Alumni Weekend is an annual event held in Boonville. Events are “Kemper” centered, and this year includes some special additions to help celebrate the 175th year since the school’s founding in 1844 by Professor F.T. Kemper. This year, a special 175th anniversary commemorative coin will be sold in addition to Kemper themed apparel, autographed posters by Margaret Hall, and a guest appearance and photo opportunity with a Budweiser Clydesdale.
The alumni’s goal has not only been to safeguard Kemper’s past, but grow and continue the legacy even though the school is no longer. They agree, the spirit of Kemper will outlive them. It is a standard that was set and they feel will not be diminished.
“Boonville has been our home for 175 years and we want that to continue for many generations to come. While Kemper’s footprint isn’t the same as it was 17 years ago we will continue to leave our mark on this community and history by telling that ‘the object of Kemper is to develop in harmony the physical, mental, and moral powers. Not to make near scholars but to make men. Nunquam Non Paratus,” stated Gramlich.
“As I prepare to pass the baton to our incoming President, I know the future holds great things for KMS and I feel nothing but joy for what lies ahead. I want to thank each of you for giving me this opportunity to serve. This experience has made me not only a better leader, but a better person, and I am eternally grateful for the friendships I have made during my days at Kemper,” stated Humpherey. “I remain Nunquam Non Paratus and Kemper Proud.”