Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Services Thursday for Retired Judge Bernard Kemper
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Services are scheduled at noon Thursday for retired East Los Angeles Municipal Court Judge Bernard F. Kemper, who died Sunday at the age of 85.
Kemper was a commissioner of the court from 1984 until January 1990, when the-Gov. George Duekmejian named him to one of its four judgeships. He retired in 1998 rather than run for another full term, but accepted an assignment to serve on the Los Angeles Superior Court in 2003.
He sat more or less continuously until late last year, doing mostly preliminary hearings and misdemeanor jury trials at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center.
He enjoyed the work too much to be away from it for any considerable time, his son said yesterday. “Unless there was a cruise or an illness,” David Kemper told the MetNews, “he was at court.” His father “loved the work, loved the court, loved the people,” he said, adding that a number of judicial officers and court employees visited him at home or in the hospital since he has been away.
As recently as a week ago, David Kemper added, he was talking about wishing he could get out of the hospital and go back to work.
Judge George Lomelli recalled yesterday how Kemper helped him transition to the bench when he was first appointed 13 years ago and took over a courtroom where Kemper had been sitting for months on assignment.
“He was a very dear person,” Lomelli said. “He was just a classy gentleman. I never saw him lose his temper. He was very professional, very prepared. And he treated everyone with respect.”
Retired Judge Los Angeles Municipal Court Judge Samuel Mayerson, who has also continued to serve on assignment, said Kemper’s passing “makes me very sad.” The two had known each other more than three decades, he said, dating to the time when Mayerson was a prosecutor and Kemper a criminal defense attorney.
Both would arrive at court early in the morning, Mayerson recalled, and they would often visit. “He was a very classy gentleman, a rare human being,” Mayerson said.
Thursday’s noon service, to be held at Mount Sinai Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills, will be “a celebration of one of those big, sweeping lives,” David Kemper said.
His father, he noted, was extremely proud of his service in the South Pacific during World War II, as a member of the Sixth Infantry Division, known as the “Sight Seein’ Sixth” because of the wide swath of territory in which it saw action.
After the war, the Michigan native earned a degree as a chiropodist, practicing for a time before joining his then-father-in-law in the homebuilding business, which brought him “as close to an ulcer as you could possibly get,” he once told a reporter. He moved to California in 1960 and eventually decided to attend Southwestern Law School, graduating in 1966.
He was a Los Angeles deputy public defender from 1967 to 1969 before opening a general practice in Marina del Rey. Before becoming a commissioner, he spent about 10 years as a judge pro tem in East Los Angles and in Huntington Park, and was an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association and the East Los Angeles Municipal Court.
Survivors besides his son include his wife, Rosalind Kemper, and daughters Andrea Cardey and Nancy Kemper. The family requested that memorial donations be made to the American Heart Association.
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company