Holly Springs Funeral Home

Rev. William Kemp

The Reverend William Vance Kemp, 92 – Holly Springs, Mississippi
 
William Vance Kemp was born March 30, 1926 in Corinth, Mississippi, the youngest of eight children of Charlie Odell Kemp and Annie Moore Kemp. He is predeceased by his seven brothers and sisters, Annie, Charlie, Howard, Mattie Frances, Walter (Ed), Dorothy and Virginia. The stories of the youngest three children of the family are plentiful and typically involved Virginia and William working in tandem as a mischievous duo, with older sister Dorothy as the dutiful foil and eyes and ears of their parents. Though these eight children’s ages spanned a range of years and resources were limited during their years at home, theirs was a close family with a genuine love and caring for each other. They weathered together the Great Depression, wars and many other challenges as did all members of the Greatest Generation, but their family bonds remained tight and sure to the end.  Without question, there is a joyful family reunion taking place in Heaven today.
 
Despite his penchant for mischief, there was something deeper stirring inside him. In 1935, nine year-old William first heard the call to Christian ministry at a revival featuring Dr. Theo Copeland, an evangelist from Texas preaching in Corinth. He often recalled a boyhood story of a man who asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up and he responded that he wanted to be a Methodist minister. The man quickly admonished him “Well, you’re going to have to change your ways then!” For the rest of his days, William would keep his mischievous ways and his self-deprecating sense of humor, but he remained true to his calling.
 
The second, and perhaps most pivotal event in William’s life occurred when his closest childhood friend Herschel Whitehurst introduced William to Herschel’s cousin Geraldine – a quiet, petite green-eyed beauty who fortunately was in town for piano lessons on a regular basis. It was love at first sight between William and this beautiful daughter of a watchful father and mother from the small community of Farmington, outside Corinth. After years of proper courtship, William and Geraldine completed their junior year of high school, and on June 6, 1943, were married, embarking on a 70+ year journey together. They settled into a quiet life in the Glenn Community in Alcorn County and started their family there.  Later they moved to Corinth, where William worked at Western Union for a number of years. Still, his calling to the ministry persisted. As he often said, the “phone” rang and rang before he finally answered it.
 
After 13 years of marriage and 3 children, William answered the call first by completing his undergraduate education while he and Geraldine split his shift at Western Union. After graduation from Blue Mountain College, he and Geraldine sold their worldly possessions and moved with Bill, Mike and Susan to Emory University in Atlanta so that he could complete seminary at Emory’s Candler School of Theology. At times when William questioned whether the enormity of the task before them was worth the sacrifice they had made to come to Emory, Geraldine had the vision to look beyond their immediate circumstances to the time when William would have all the tools he needed to serve the Church honorably and effectively and they could return to their beloved Mississippi. William often credited Geraldine with helping him stay the course and fulfill the calling that he had so long wanted to fill.
 
In 1958, William, Geraldine, Bill, Mike and Susan returned to Mississippi after William received his first full-time appointment to serve the Ashland Charge in Benton County. At that time the Ashland Charge was comprised of six churches (Ashland, Harris Chapel, Liberty, Rice Chapel, Black Jack and Lamar). It was there that the family welcomed youngest son Tim. The people of Benton County were open, generous and loving to this new pastor and his family. Time and again over many, many years – continuing long after William and Geraldine left the area for other appointments – the people of Benton and Marshall Counties would demonstrate to them and their family the authentic nature and the depth of their friendship, compassion and caring. The area would eventually become a permanent home base for three of the four Kemp children and their families, as well as for William and Geraldine themselves.
 
Reverend Kemp served the Ashland Charge until 1962, when he was appointed to First Methodist Church in Marks, Mississippi, where he served for four years. He went on to serve other appointments in the Mississippi Conference: Columbus Wesley (five years), Winona First (six years), Greenwood District (as District Superintendent, six years), Senatobia First (two years) and Booneville First (six years).
 
William first retired at the age of 62 and immediately began serving in retirement the Greenleaf-Palestine Charge, where he served for seven years. In 1996, he and Geraldine returned to where it all started – the Ashland Charge, by then comprised of “just” three churches (Ashland, Harris Chapel and Liberty) which William served in retirement for another 20 years until his final retirement at the age of 90. He preached his final sermon on May 15, 2016. Throughout a lifetime of dedication to the work of Christ on earth and over six decades of continuous service to the people of Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church, Reverend Kemp truly fulfilled God’s calling. For over 70 of those years, his first and only love, Geraldine, remained faithfully at his side.
 
Beyond his dedication to the Church and his work for the cause of Christ in Mississippi, Reverend Kemp was first and foremost devoted husband to Geraldine, loving father and father-in-law to Bill (Ginger), Mike (Beckey), Susan (John) and Tim (Lynn), grandfather to Michelle, Kathy, Bill, Michael, Brian, Will, Fowler, Megan, Austin and Stuart, and great-grandfather to Connor, Jared, Tyler, Landon, Gerald, Bailey, Clarabelle, Luke, Sebastian, Liberty and Chance. All who knew him, adults and children alike, were his family and all knew the depth of his love. He was an avid gardener, a voracious reader, a skilled woodworker, an adventurous traveler, a boisterous singer and lover of all music and a chocolate connoisseur. He had a silly wit, was an absolute prayer warrior and gave breath-depriving bear hugs – all of which buoyed the spirits of his family and friends even in the darkest moments of their lives.
 
For months after his final retirement in 2016, Reverend Kemp (a lifelong United Methodist) visited a number of area churches finding kinship with others regardless of their denomination. He was just as likely to show up at the Episcopal, Presbyterian, Baptist, Church of Christ or Pentecostal Church as he was the United Methodist Church. In all of these communities of Christian fellowship, he found faith, love, acceptance and purpose. He loved and he was loved in return. Indeed, his was a rich and full life because his circle of friends was ever-widening.
 
On November 2, 2018, William claimed his own heavenly reward for his lifetime of faith and his work among God’s people.
 
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me on that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.”
        2 Timothy 4:7-8
 
A service of celebration of the life and ministry of William Vance Kemp will be held on Monday, November 5, 2018 at First United Methodist Church, 175 E. Van Dorn Avenue, Holly Springs, Mississippi 38635. His family will receive visitors in the church sanctuary from 9:00 to 11:00am and services will begin at 11:00am. Burial will be in Hillcrest Cemetery, Holly Springs, with Holly Springs Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.
 
Those who wish to remember Reverend Kemp in a tangible way are asked to consider a donation to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee or to a church of his or her choice.
 
 
 
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Please leave your condolences for the family below in the guest book by filling out the form below.  Your message will be published after review.
Name:


Message:




Name:
Gary & Brenda

Date:
11/3/2018 10:02:15 PM

Message:
We lost a great man. Love all the family


Name:
Betty B. Brower, 510 Whitehead Drive, Winona, Ms.

Date:
11/3/2018 10:04:36 PM

Message:
I was so sad to hear about the death of Bro. Kemp!. He was our pastor when in Winona and also the pastor at Liberty for my Hoover grandparents. He was a special friend and will be missed by our family. Thanks Be to God for his wonderful life.


Name:
Elizabeth Hagan

Date:
11/4/2018 3:25:37 PM

Message:
Brother Kemp will always have a special place in my heart. He was a wonderful man who always made others feel special by truly being interested in their lives. He touched our family in so many ways. We have been so blessed to have known him. Much love and prayers for your family.


Name:
Robby Atkins

Date:
11/5/2018 2:50:08 PM

Message:
May Brother Kemp rest in peace. He was a good man of God that will be missed by many folks especially the Curtis family of Lamar, MS. May God also be with his family.


Name:
Becky Jordan

Date:
11/6/2018 3:54:15 AM

Message:
Such a Godly loving man. He supported and loved my Daddy through some tough times. Daddy loved him dearly and told us that he didn’t want anyone but Brother Kemp to do his funeral and of he did. A wonderful man. You were truly blessed to call him Daddy!!!Love and prayers for all of you!!??


Name:
Ellen Murley Bickley

Date:
11/6/2018 6:14:08 PM

Message:
He will be missed! He is so loved and dear to all the Murley family. Praying God's peace and comfort for your family.


Name:
Rev. Frank G. Burton

Date:
11/6/2018 11:46:10 PM

Message:
My condolence to all the family. Bro. Bill has been a loving friend of mine since 1965. His home going diminishes my Journey here, however I rejoice that he has joined the heavenly host in our Fathers House!






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Name:
Mary Ann Hurdle

Date:
11/8/2018 12:43:39 AM

Message:
I’m so sorry for your loss. I used to ride on the elevator with him. He was always so kind and everybody loved him ??