Current Cariboo Regional District (CRD) Director and beloved retired school principal Byron Kemp died Monday, Jan. 15.
Kemp, 78, was the director for Area E, the area that included South Lakeside and Dog Creek, but was also known for his many years spent as principal within the school district, where he worked as administration at Anne Stevenson Junior Secondary School, Chimney Creek and at the Glendale Elementary School.
“Byron Kemp was a very hard working unselfish man. I know that I will miss him,” said Al Campsall, a retired principal, in a letter to the Tribune. Campsall took over from Kemp as principal at Glendale Elementary School when Kemp himself retired.
In the school district, Kemp was an advocate for the year-round calendar at Glendale, where students had a month off at three different times during the year.
When the school board looked at closing the school in 1990, due to a population decrease, Kemp looked into rescheduling the classes to make time for parents during spring breakup.
Glendale was the first school in Canada to make the change to an alternate calendar.
Kemp worked at the school district from 1974 until his retirement in 1993, but Campsall said he first encountered him in the 1980s as a coach within the schools.
“Always, he remained a man of dignity and treated his kids very well.”
Kemp founded the Williams Lake rugby club and Campsall also worked with Kemp to run the school district’s elementary wrestling program, and took classes from Kemp and his wife Diane, who taught dance in the community. Campsall in turn taught the dance moves to the students at the elementary school.
”Byron and Diane left me with a fantastic way to empower children through dance. I have since taught most of my enhanced jive dance techniques to Steve Dickens at Cataline Elementary and his kids are benefiting from Mr. Dickens’ tutelage,” said Campsall.
“The Kemp legacy continues.”
Byron also was a school counsellor at Thompson Rivers University where he helped train many student teachers.
CRD directors received word of Kemp’s passing the evening of the 15th.
“Byron’s dedication and commitment to his electoral area and the broader community is an inspiration,” said CRD Chair Margo Wagner. “He leaves behind a tremendous legacy and big shoes to fill.”
Kemp served as a CRD director from 1999 to 2005, and from 2011 to present. Kemp advocated for improved water and sewer to the Mountview and the Dog Creek areas. Prior to 1999 he also served as an alternate director.
“Even in his last days, Byron was talking about the regional district and the topics discussed at the Board table,” the CRD noted in a release.
Melynda Neufeld, the alternate director for Area E will take over for Kemp as the director for the area ahead of local government elections set to take place this fall.
Kemp leaves behind his wife, Diane, their two children, six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.