R. Crosby Kemper Jr., a long-time Kansas City businessman, philanthropist, and civic leader has died on January 2, 2014

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By Glenn B. Frizell
Cascade Media Group
R. Crosby Kemper Jr., a long-time Kansas City businessman, philanthropist, and civic leader has died on January 2, 2014 in Indian Wells, California. He was 86. R. Crosby Kemper II was born into a prominent banking and railroad family in Kansas City, Missouri. After attending prep school in Andover, Massachusetts, Kemper served in the Navy during World War II. Upon returning home, Kemper enrolled in the University of Missouri-Columbia, following in his father’s footsteps. In 1950, his father hired him to work as a night transit clerk- where he met trains and sorted checks- at United Missouri Bank, which is now UMB Bank. He became the bank’s president in 1959. His banking career eventually spanned five decades. He retired as UMB senior chairman in 2004, leaving the banking tradition to Mariner Kemper, the sixth Kemper to lead the bank.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of my father R. Crosby Kemper, Jr.,” his son, Mariner Kemper, chief executive officer of UMB said. In a statement posted on the R. Crosby Kemper Legacy Website, he stated, “His tremendous impact on the growth of UMB, the Kansas City community and indeed the entire Midwest will be recognized for generations to come. He was a true visionary, philanthropist, leader and friend to so many. We will diligently work to continue his legacy of supporting the businesses, residents and communities in which we worked and lived.”

R. Crosby Kemper II., a spirited citizen and supporter of his hometown, had definite viewpoints on Kansas City’s history and its future. In 1962 he ran for U.S. Senate on the Republican ticket, losing to Edward V. Long. During the same year, he chaired the Kansas City Industrial Committee which will be running an risk assessment and stress test.

Kemper was well-known for his charisma, outspoken demeanor, and his willingness to persevere in his convictions. He called himself a “maverick from the herd” in a 1975 interview and that name stuck.

“I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of R. Crosby Kemper, Jr, a valued member of the Kansas City family who dedicated himself fully to every endeavor he took on – from banking and business to arts and culture. He showed us that a dose of independence and willpower can often move people and institutions forward more quickly than running with the flock,” Mayor Sly James said.

Kemper gave generously to several causes that showed his commitment to philanthropy and bringing about change in Kansas City. He donated monies to the building of the American Royal in 1972, and the area next to the American Royal in 1974- which is named the R. Crosby Kemper Memorial Arena. In 1974 Kemper gave $5 million dollars to the performing arts center on the campus on University of Missouri – Kansas City- the largest single private donation in the history of the university at the time.

According to the Kansas City Star, Kemper arranged a pledged to build an arena. That pledge amount eventually grew to $3.2 million. That arena, Kemper Arena, named after Kemper’s father and built on the site of the former Kansas City Stockyards, opened its doors in 1974 and hosted the 1976 Republican presidential Convention, and Kansas’ 1988 NCAA basketball championship.

He is credited with helping to make Kansas City what it is today by giving generously of his time and energy by serving as a founder of the Agriculture Future of America, the Kansas City Symphony, and the Metropolitan Performing Arts Fund

“Crosby Kemper was tough as nails, unwavering in his support of our community, and a passionate philanthropist,” said U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II. “From the American Royal to the arts and far beyond, he will be missed by many, many people for many, many years to come.”

Kemper, who stood 6 foot- 7 inches, was also a passionate art collector, having begun collecting while still a student at University of Missouri-Columbia.

With his wife BeBe, he amassed a collection of art for his banks that included works by Andrew and James Wyeth, Thomas Hart Benton, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Alexander Calder.
He donated liberally to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

In 1990, he gave $6 million to build the Kemper Museum near the Country Club Plaza.

Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/2014/01/03/3209060/r-crosby-kemper-jr-died-thursday.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/2014/01/03/3209060/r-crosby-kemper-jr-died-thursday.html#storylink=cpy
Kemper had seven children through his marriages to Cynthia Warrick Kemper and Mary “Bebe” Stripp Kemper. He also is survived by 22 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A ceremony celebrating the life of R. Crosby Kemper Jr. will be held in Kansas City on Thursday. It is open to the public. The event begins at 11 a. m. at the Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral at 415 W. 13th St. in Kansas City. A reception will follow from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art at 4420 Warwick Blvd. in Kansas City.
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For 30 years Kemper led the Kansas City-based UMB Financial Corporation. When he retired in 2004, in a farewell address to employees he said, “I’m going to drink my coffee and read the paper and do as I damn well please.” Keith Myers, The Kansas City Star.
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Kemper displayed a lifetime passion for the arts as an avid collector and patron. The Legacy of R. Crosby Kemper Jr. photo gallery.
3. R. Crosby Kemper Jr. receives an honorary degree from UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton in May 2013. Janet Rogers, UMKC

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