Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Sat, June 06

Obituary: Henry Kempel (‘Kemp’) Wilhelmsen

Henry Kempel (“Kemp”) Wilhelmsen passed away peacefully after a long and full life on July 10, 2019, at the age of 90. Born Dec. 1, 1928, in Independence, Missouri, Kemp and his brother, Eugene, were raised by their mother, Camille Wilhelmsen.

After graduating high school, Kemp enlisted in the United States Navy in 1946 as a sailor aboard the U.S.S. Howard W. Gilmore. After his naval discharge, he attended Kansas University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.

He enlisted in the United States Army as an infantryman during the closing days of the Korean War in 1953. After discharge, he married his college sweetheart Jean and attended Kansas University College of Law.

Upon graduation, he and Jean left the Midwest with their sons and moved to the small community of Prescott. After he worked as a trust officer for First National Bank of Arizona, he was admitted to the Arizona State Bar in 1962 and retired from law in 2004. A life-long Harry Truman Democrat, Kemp’s only attempt at politics was his run for Yavapai County Attorney in 1964. Kemp was narrowly defeated by his friend Eino Jacobson, who hired Kemp as his deputy after Eino Jacobson won the office. Kemp was a long-time member of the Smoki People, the Rotary Club of Prescott, Prescott Little League, a faithful Episcopalian, and was involved in many civic affairs. During the 1960s and 1970s, summers consisted of softball at City Park (now known as Ken Lindley Field) and Smoki practice at the fairgrounds. Thursday evenings were family dinners at Jack Whitney’s Old Mill, and Saturday nights were dinner and dancing at Jack and Laura Branch’s Pine Cone Inn. During the holidays and many weekends of the cooler months, Kemp and Jean vacationed in Rocky Point on the Sea of Cortez.

The highlight of Kemp’s law career was his representation of Michael Kent Polland and Patrick Gene Polland in 1986 before the United States Supreme Court. He argued before the nine justices in Washington, D.C., including Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

The most important things to Kemp were his family, friends and community. Kemp was preceded in the passing of Jean in 2006.

Information provided by survivors.

Report a Typo Contact