PASSIONATE and dedicated.
Those are just two of the many words that could be used to describe local Les Kemp, who devoted almost 30 years to the Gawler U3A group before passing away peacefully on February 27, just short of his 93rd birthday.
Mr Kemp was a community driven man who, after retirement from his job as a high school principal, wanted to offer his teaching skills to older individuals who wished to continue learning.
He joined the U3A in 1988, and led a number of groups across the years, and was also the chairman on several occasions.
His history course was the only ‘subject’ that had been offered continuously from 1988 to 2008, with the same leader.
Mr Kemp documented this history in a book – ‘A brief history of U3A in Gawler (1988-2008)’ – in which he “estimated that he had given over 300 different history talks”.
In addition to his history teaching, Mr Kemp also taught beginners classes in German, French and Italian, and short courses on meteorology.
He also led a Tai Chi group for some years, despite his teaching background being maths and science.
The dedicated educator didn’t do his volunteering alone – he was joined by his wife, Joan, who donated a similar time to the group, for classes in music and literature.
Together, the pair were dubbed ‘Mr and Mrs U3A’.
Mr Kemp’s daughter, Pauline, said the pair loved being involved in the U3A, and also loved living at their Alexander Avenue property, where they spent over 40 years together.
“Mum and dad lived there for 43 years, before Trinity College or anything was built,” she said.
“When they moved in, there was only rainwater available so dad worked on a water scheme to get water up to their place, and their neighbours’ places.
“They had 11 acres up there and it was absolutely beautiful.
“They both loved gardening and working outside, and they planted thousands of trees.
“It was their little piece of heaven.”
Mr Kemp is survived by Joan, their three daughters, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Over 150 people attended Mr Kemp’s funeral, which was a celebration of his rich and interesting life, including many U3A Gawler members.