Northwest Blacksmith Association

Don Kemper Sr Passed Away July 1, 2104


Ridgefield: Iron Ranch owner Alan Shurman, left, and blacksmith Don Kemper, right, ride in a 1917 Aultman & Taylor gasoline tractor. It weighs about 20,000 pounds and moves at a top speed of 2.5 miles per hour.

Ridgefield: Iron Ranch owner Alan Shurman, left, and blacksmith Don Kemper, right, ride in a 1917 Aultman Taylor gasoline tractor. It weighs about 20,000 pounds and moves at a top speed of 2.5 miles per hour.  (Photo Courtesy of Schurman’s Iron Ranch)

It is with a sad heart that we learn of Don Kemper, Sr. passing. According to the news on KOIN.com “There were no witnesses to the apparent accidental drowning, and an investigation reveals Kemper was boating alone, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.” Various details can be found online.

(originally Don’s passing was reported to have occurred on June 30, and subsequently corrected to July 1)

Don Kemper was a very active long time NWBA and ABANA member and past president of the NWBA. He avidly promoted the art and craft of blacksmithing, and was a prodigious collector of blacksmith tools and equipment. Recently, he has come to nearly every Mentoring Center monthly event, and has remained a strong supporter of the NWBA. His son, Don “Donk” Kemper, Jr. is also a longtime member of the NWBA. Please remember his family in your prayers.

A nice glimpse into more about Don Kemper, Sr was posted online Monday, September 3, 2012 9:00 am by Devin Higgins staff reporter fo The Reflector (www.thereflector.com):

Ridgefield Heritage Day began as a way for resident Charlotte Clevidence to honor the memory of her late brother David Dynes, and the history project he’d created. The goal was to continue Dynes’ legacy work for the community in addition to celebrating her hometown.

For blacksmith Don Kemper, 79, it’s a chance to celebrate the town he’s lived in since 1935, while also showing younger generations a passion he’s held since childhood.

“I was given my first anvil when I was five, and my great-uncle was a blacksmith back then,” Kemper said. “It was something I’ve always liked to do but it was also something I did off and on since I had to make a living.”

Until 1982, Kemper worked as an electrical engineer and manager for the Clark County Public Utility District. Upon retiring, he fired back up his forge, grabbed a hammer, and found a way to keep busy.

“I do all sorts of artistic blacksmithing, like fire grates and custom ironwork, and more practical stuff like handmade hinges, tools and so on,” Kemper said. “I’ve also done swords and knives using good Damascus steel, so it will last a while.”

Kemper adds that he wants to pass on what he knows to the younger generation as a way for them to stay connected to the history they’ve inherited.

“It’s important to keep them interested in where we all come from,” Kemper said. “Besides, being 79, I’m not going to be able to do this forever.”

A Celebration of Life/Memorial Service will be held at the First Presbyterian Church at 4300 Main St. Vancouver, WA 98663 at 1PM on Saturday July 26th, 2014.  (Located just off of I-5 in Vancouver, USA).

Leave a Reply