Staples High School graduate Herbert (Tank) Kemp III died Wednesday in Hamden, after a brief illness. He was 54 years old.
Born May 8, 1967 in New York City to Herbert Kemp, Jr. and Dolores Cruse Kemp, he was raised in Westport with his younger sister Courtney. He taught her how to read and ride a bicycle. Throughout his life, he was one of her greatest supporters.
After graduating from Staples in 1985, he earned a BA in government and history from Hamilton College. He received the Campus Leadership Award and Procter & Gamble Campus Service Award for his student government leadership. In added he added a master’s in business management from Albertus Magnus College.
Herb joined Procter & Gamble’s sales executive training program after graduation. Following a successful career as a sales and account leader for consumer product companies including Procter & Gamble, Ciba-Geigy, Dupont Merck, Johnson & Johnson, and Pepsi Bottling Company, Herb’s strong desire to have a career based on purpose and public service led him to shift his professional focus.
Always engrossed with politics and a lifelong Democratic, he considered running for Congress. Ultimately he found his calling in the nonprofit world, spending nearly a decade as district and field director for the Boy Scouts of America Connecticut Yankee Council, then director of membership recruitment for the Girl Scouts of Connecticut.
Herb and Felice Gray married in 1992. They renewed their vows 5 years to the day, and planned to celebrate their 30th anniversary next year with family and friends where they were wed, at Yale University.
Their son Evan was born in 2009. Herb was a proud dad, especially when taking on primary caregiver responsibilities in his final months. He was always ready with a hug, kiss, or gentle pinch.
Herb was known for his quick wit, booming laugh, and the care, love, kindness and support he showed to everyone in his world.
He was an avid fan of Prince and Reggie Jackson. On his last birthday, he received a personal message from the slugger.
“Herb was a true blessing, to me and to everyone who knew him. It was a privilege and joy to walk this world beside him for nearly 32 years,” says Felice.
He gave great advice, was an excellent mentor and friend, and loved to entertain. He was a gourmand and had an encyclopedic knowledge of government and history. He loved the arts, played the drums and was an excellent singer.
Herb is survived by his wife Felice Gray-Kemp; son Evan James Kemp both of Hamden; his mother Dolores Cruse Kemp; sister Courtney Kemp and niece Charlotte Agboh of Los Angeles; mother-in-law Joan Gray-Dildy and a large extended family.
Due to COVID, the family asks that everyone attending services wear masks, bring proof of vaccination, and have taken and cleared a COVID test within the past week.
Visitation takes places Friday (August 6, 5 to 7 p.m.) at Howard K. Hill Funeral Services, 1287 Chapel Street, New Haven, and Saturday (August 7, 8 to 9 a.m., Beulah Heights First Pentecostal Church, 782 Orchard Street, New Haven), with the funeral following at 9 a.m.
Flowers may be sent to Howard K. Hill Funeral Services by Friday, August 6. In lieu of flowers, a memorial donation may be made to Hamilton College (select “Friend,” designate the contribution, then “Other” and choose “Herbert Kemp III, Class of 1989”) or the Democratic National Committee. For more information, click here.