Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dr. Mike Kemp's Community Memorial Service Announcement

A Community Memorial Service Honoring Dr. Mike Kemp
April 2, 2009
4:00 p.m.
Kellogg Conference Center at Gallaudet University
800 Florida Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002

Please join Gallaudet University and the Kemp family in a Community Memorial Service honoring Dr. Mike Kemp, 60, who passed away on November 24, 2008. He was loved by his family and friends and was a respected professor in the Department of American Sign Language and Deaf Studies at Gallaudet University. This memorial service is an opportunity to come together as a community to remember his distinguished qualities and honor the contributions he made in the field of Deaf Education across the globe. 
The Kemp family is establishing a memorial fund in his name. More details will be provided at the service. 
The memorial service will be videotaped and posted on Gallaudet's website the week after the service. 
Special Request: The family would like to have a copy of Mike telling the "Lifeboat" gesture story during one of his Visual Gestural Communication workshops. If you have a copy of the "Lifeboat", please email Joan at 

Dr. William Michael Kemp was born and raised in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with his parents, William and Marie Kemp, and younger deaf brother, Tom. Upon Dr. Kemp's graduation from Lancaster Catholic High School, he went to Gallaudet University to earn his Bachelor's degree in Sociology, class of 1971. In 1975, he earned his Master's degree in Deaf Education from William McDaniel College. Dr. Kemp earned his doctorate in Higher Education Administration in 1986 from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. His dissertation was titled "A Comparison of the Simultaneous Method Evaluation and the Sign Communication Proficiency Interview (SCPI)."
Dr. Kemp was best known for his witty sense of humor and his knowledgeable, extraordinary teaching style, which he shared with students and teachers worldwide. His first teaching job was at the Lancaster County Day School for the Deaf under the auspices of the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf from 1972 to 1977. He then taught American Sign Language for 35 years, the last 31 at Gallaudet University. During his 31 years at Gallaudet, Dr. Kemp served as chair of three different academic departments and served on numerous academic and professional committees. Dr. Kemp focused his efforts on teaching and consulting Visual Gestural Communications throughout the world. His goal was to bridge the communication gap between the national and international deaf and hearing communities. 
Since the 1980's, Dr. Kemp's international endeavors have reached Central and South America, the Caribbean Islands, the Middle East, Europe, Puerto Rico, British Columbia, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Japan. For the last 10 years, Dr. Kemp focused his energy in Thailand and Vietnam. He made frequent trips to serve as a visiting professor at the Cao Dang Su Pham (Teaching Training Center) in Dong Nai Province near Ho Chi Minh City. Last October, Dr. Kemp served as a technical expert on information and communication access at the "Gathering Input and Recommendations for the Development of the National Law on Disability" conference in Hanoi, Vietnam. 
Dr. Kemp received the National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research Award at the 18th International Congress on Education of the Deaf in 1995 in Tel Aviv, Israel. In 2002, he received the T.J. O'Rourke Memorial Award from the American Sign Language Teachers Association in recognition of his international work. Dr. Kemp was honored with the recent Teacher of the Year Award in 2008 from his fraternity, Alpha Sigma Pi. 
Dr. Kemp published the book, "Fundamentals of Evaluating Sign Language Programs" which was a checklist for program assessment. He also founded Kemp-Visual Communications, a consulting business that offered ASL training and video productions of weekly current events in 2006 for ASL students and interpreters. He served on the Northern Virginia Community College Advisory Board for the Interpreting Training Program and was a proud member of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and the Virginia Association of the Deaf. In this capacity, he regularly gave workshops to deaf adolescents at NAD's Youth Leadership Camp teaching deaf and hard of hearing high school students critical thinking skills, cultural sensitivity, and crisis management. 
During Mike's free time, he enjoyed cooking, photography (the picture of the seagull was taken by Mike), reading, traveling, and spending time with his family, especially storytelling with his grandchildren.
Mike will be greatly missed. Survived by a son, William M. Kemp, Jr., William Jr's mother, Vicki J. Shank, his wife Joan Kemp, two step-daughters, Jennifer Yost Ortiz and her husband Anthony Ortiz, Jamie Yost Merritt and her husband, Raymond Merritt, and three grandchildren, Zion and Zeke Ortiz and Hazel Merritt. He is also survived by a brother, Thomas Kemp, his wife, Linda and two nephews, Dan and Jack. 
Condolences may be sent to Dr. Kemp's son, Bill Kemp at 13112 Watchwood Lane, Fairfax, VA 22033, and to wife, Joan Kemp, P.O. Box 4228, Alexandria, VA 22303.