Ralph William VanKempen passed away Sunday, October 27, 2013, after a brief illness. Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Wednesday, October 30, 2013, 11:00 a.m., at Christ the King Catholic Church in Browerville with Father Peter VanderWeyst officiating. Friends may begin calling on Tuesday, October 29, 2013, 4:00 - 7:00 p.m., at the Iten Funeral Home in Browerville and on the day of the service beginning at 10:00 a.m., at the church. Interment was held at Christ the King Catholic Cemetery, Browerville.
He was born February 5, 1924, to Hubert and Ida (Peerboom) VanKempen in Morris, MN. He attended school at St. Mary's Catholic School in Morris and graduated 1942. He joined the US Navy in 1942, was stationed overseas for the duration of his tour of duty until the war ended in 1945. He was discharged from the Navy in 1948.
He met his future bride, Phyllis Marie Lucas, in 1949 and they married in June 1950. He was a Burlington Northern depot agent in many towns across Minnesota and North Dakota until he retirement in 1983.
Ralph and Phyllis moved to Browerville, MN in 1976, where he was active in St. Joseph's Catholic Church as a lector. He served on the cemetery board, assisted his brother-in-law, Walt Lucas, in digging graves and occasionally drove the hearse. He helped staff at the catholic school and sang in the church choir for many years. He loved puttering around the house, gardening, and helping Phyllis can all the produce from their garden.
After his retirement, Ralph volunteered for over 20 years at Genesis Stained Glass Studio where he assisted in rebuilding church windows from parishes across Minnesota.
Ralph and Phyllis moved to Alexandria, MN in October, 2011 where they resided until his death.
He was preceded in death by his parents, and several brothers and sisters. He is survived by his wife, Phyllis, his children, Sharon Kopp, Greg (Julie) VanKempen, Ruth (Tomm) Pfitzenmeier, Joan (Tom) Woessner, Sue (Mike) Fierstine and Dan VanKempen, as well as his many grandchildren, Justin Kopp, Megan (Kopp) Krotzer, Jesse VanKempen, Melissa VanKempen, Mark VanKempen, Tammy (Walz) Watkins, Adam Walz, Miranda (Woessner) Brown, Michael Fierstine, Andy Fierstine, and Ethan VanKempen.