Eugene (Gene) John Kempton

Published 5:49 pm Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Eugene (Gene) John Kempton, 78, of Six Mile, SC, died November 16, 2010 at Oconee Hospice of the Foothills.

Born on June 7, 1932 in Des Moines, IA, to Chris Joseph and Mabel Wise Kempton, he attended Theodore Roosevelt High School and Drake University. Gene served in the National Guard and was a pilot in the United States Air Force, retiring in 1967 after flying 43 combat missions over Vietnam, commanding a B-52 assigned to the 367th Bomb Squadron of the Strategic Air Command.

His career as an aviator continued as a commercial airline pilot, filling his passport with stamps from airports all over the globe. He was never in the news for heroically landing a disabled aircraft but was simply proud to have safely delivered his passengers to their destinations. He retired from aviation in 1985 to an old farm in the foothills of the Blue Ridge in South Carolina where much of his family remains to this day.

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In retirement, Gene was devoted to his family and enjoyed annual summer trips to the American West, camping, fishing and visiting distant family members. He survived one especially memorable trip in the company of three pre-teen granddaughters and always spoke fondly of his fishing trips with Kenny in Washington State. All those who knew Gene have enjoyed the wit and humor that he had honed along the way.

He is survived by a sister, Phyllis Hall of Des Moines, two sons, Christopher of Six Mile, SC, and Curtis of Columbus, and two daughters, Anne and Rebecca, both of Six Mile, SC. He was the proud grandfather of Justin, Austin, Jaylyn, Kyle, Ben, Sammy, Sarah, Stephanie and Julia and his great-grandsons Cameron and Braiden.

Gene was preceded in death by his wife, Loralle Ballou of Salina, KS.

No immediate services are planned. A memorial and celebration of his life will be planned for a later date. Contact Chris Kempton at 864-868-6530 or for more information. Memorials may be made to The Cottingham House and mailed to: Oconee Hospice of the Foothills, Foundation Office, 298 Memorial Drive, Seneca, SC 29672.