Gregory Alan Kemp Sr.

Gregory Alan Kemp Sr.

July 26, 1956 –

December 25, 2022

On Sunday, December 25, 2022, Gregory Alan Kemp Sr., 66, passed away unexpectedly. Our family lost a devoted and loving son, father, brother, uncle, grandfather and friend who will be deeply missed.

Greg was born July 26, 1956 to Caroline and Elmer Junior Kemp, in Yakima. His early childhood years were spent in Naches before relocating to the Greater Portland area following the passing of his father at the age of five. He returned to the Yakima Valley as a teenager and later worked for Northwest Equipment Company, F.M.C. and AgriTech. He traveled to Hawaii for AgriTech where he opened and ran a ginger root processing plant on the big island of Hawaii. He never lost his love for tropical flavors after his time living in Hawaii.

He opened his first business, Metal Craft Fabricators, in his early twenties and essentially ran it from the dashboard of the first of his many Chevy Suburbans. He focused on design, engineering and manufacturing of packing house equipment.  It was this love for design, engineering and the passion for building American made equipment and structures out of raw steel that truly defined who Greg was.

Later he bought a location in Brownstown, Washington expanding his clientele to include local farms and ranches with his wife Paula. Paula and Greg married in the fall of 1982 at a small wedding chapel in Northern Idaho, and their son Gregory Alan Kemp, Jr. was born a few years later in 1984. He built many types of fruit and vegetable processing equipment all across the state of Washington as well as the Midwest. He managed to successfully run his business with his son, Greg Jr. on his hip.

Following his divorce from Paula, he continued to grow his business and decided to relocate to the Brewster area to be closer to his son. He changed the name of his business to Kemp’s Machine Co. (the apostrophe ‘s was for his son, Greg Jr., put all of his belongings in apple bins on the back of a semi-truck, and hit the road. During Greg Jr.’s childhood years he ran his business from locations in Brewster, the Methow Valley, and later in Entiat, Washington where Greg Sr. built a beautiful home on stilts (the guard shack) with sweeping views of the Columbia River. It was during these years that he helped his son become an experienced motocross rider, traveling all over the west coast and beyond for his races.  Greg was a great teacher and mentored his son  into becoming a leader in his business and in the manufacturing field. Greg had enormous pride for his son, Greg Jr.  The father and son duo had a dynamic relationship that landed them all over the country from designing and building one-off custom pieces of equipment, to industry changing inventions that were adopted all over the country, and even installing the biggest apple packing line (at the time) in Minnesota one summer between Greg Jr.’s Sophomore and Junior year in high school.

In 2018 he moved his business operations back to the Yakima Valley and later in 2021 sold Kemp’s Machine Co. to Greg, Jr. who continues his legacy through running the business today.

Greg was a great dog dad and owned many loyal dogs like O’ Reilly, Marge, Homer, Klondike and Maggie who now resides with Greg, Jr.  He also owned several exotic pets for his own and Greg Jr.’s enjoyment such as an alligator, several boa constrictors and 14 foot Burmese Python.

Greg was an avid fisherman, mainly fishing for salmon and steelhead out of his Red Thunder Jet boat in many Washington rivers, mostly at his vacation property on the Cowlitz River.  His favorite fishing trips included his son.  Greg also had a love for motorcycles that he shared with his son.  He was a motocross racer in his younger years and later bought a 1984 Harley Davidson FLHX for road trips.  When Greg Sr. and his son were not hitting the open road on the Harley you could often find them off-road on trails.  Greg Jr. on one of his many dirt bikes over the years, and Greg Sr. on his 1978 Yamaha TT-500.

He squished pennies on railroad tracks for the kids, taught them how to fish and shoot guns, pushed them around Eschbach Park on a raft and taught safety in all situations. He flipped kids over his shoulder and ran bare footed to the store to get medical supplies and grabbed a kid off of a little motorcycle just before they collided with a steel rack.  He rescued kids from bull snakes and took nieces to father daughter dances. He would drop anything to help whether that meant bringing a can of gas or a loaded gun.

Greg Jr.’s crib was next to his father’s drafting table in the early days, and he learned to fish out of his stroller.  As soon as he could walk he was out in the shop playing with welders and torches when his dad wasn’t looking.  Greg Sr. had an endless supply of Gold Nugget ice cream bars.  Holidays won’t be the same without him. He was the provider of squeeze cheese, the coolest 4th of July shows in the valley- including putting out any fires we may have started while wearing the kids light up fire hats.

Greg was a loving, caring son who was committed to providing any kind of assistance his mother needed for her well-being.

Greg is survived by his son Greg Kemp Jr. (Brittany) of Yakima, Washington, one granddaughter Alleigh Kemp of Yakima, Washington, mother, Caroline Campbell of Yakima, Washington, sister Debbie Johnson (Kemp) of Yakima, Washington, brother Edmund Campbell (Theresa) of Yakima, Washington, aunt, Luella Kemp of Goldendale, Washington, nieces Carissa (Chris), Christin (David), Carrie (Jeremy), nephews Ethan, Alex, and Zack, and countless close friends including Kurt Marquiss and Bill and Melinda Danko, and numerous cousins.

He is proceeded in death by his father Elmer Junior Kemp, sister Elizabeth Campbell, maternal grandparents Virgil and Teckla Fisher, paternal grandparents Elmer and Esther Kemp, several uncles aunts and close friend “my buddy Bill” Windell.

Arrangements are by Keith and Keith Funeral Home, Yakima. Greg was laid to rest at a private family graveside service.  A celebration of Greg’s life will be held later in the spring. To leave a memory for the family please visit keithandkeith.com

 

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