Krempp remembered as ‘a people’s person’

Photos provided
Ken Krempp and his wife, Jane, center, had five children and many grandchildren. The family patriarch, who ran Krempp Lumber Company for 40 years and had a hand in the construction of many area buildings, died recently at age 87.

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

JASPER — Ken Krempp of Jasper was a historian, beloved father and the man responsible for the construction of many area buildings. But attendees at his funeral last month all remembered something else about the late Jasper man.

“He was a people’s person,” said his son, Bill. “That was his strength. And the stories from all the people coming through were constant. Hundreds of people coming through the funeral home and the story was consistent everywhere. That dad always stopped, and took time, and made them the most important thing in the world when he talked to them.”

It didn’t matter who it was or where they were talking. Ken, who ran the Krempp Lumber Company for about 40 years, made time. He died on Nov. 14 from interstitial pneumonia at 87 years old.

The Herald sat down with Krempp family members to discuss his life and impact on Dubois County, as well as the mark he left on their personal lives. They stressed they did not want to make him out to be a saint, but remember him as a faithful man who set an example with his actions and loved his friends and family.

Ken and his wife, Jane, have five children: Andy, Bill, John, Kenwyn (Kealing) and Karen (Olinger).

Jane (Schneider) met Ken at the Calumet dance hall. He approached her and asked for a dance. She saw the good that filled him and fell in love almost instantly.

Ken started working at the family businesses in 1956 with his late father, Edwin, and late brother, Stan. Though the names of their businesses have changed over the years, the Krempp family’s work in various construction and supply endeavors dates back more than 150 years.

Ken retired decades ago, but still offered his advice and consultation after leaving his official capacity at the company.

His son, Andy, explained that Ken moved the focus of the construction business from residential to institutional construction. He did so to cut competition with the Retail Home Center, a division of the company that sold materials to contractors. That division now operates under The Krempp Lumber Company name.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the construction business started building schools, churches, hospitals, factory buildings and more. Some of those first projects included the construction of Paoli High School and the Precious Blood School in Jasper. Recently, Krempp Construction has built Jasper Middle School and the new Princeton Community High School, while also making renovations at Jasper High School and other buildings across the region.

“He kind of led Krempp Construction into that type of business,” Andy said. “I think that at the time, he saw it as a really good opportunity to go into that field. He was interested in that, I think.”

Every now and again, a slice of sidewalk stamped "Traylor and Krempp" — another earlier entity of the business — gets dropped off at the company’s current office on Main Street in Jasper when torn out and replaced by the city. Those sidewalks are more than 100 years old, and serve as a reminder to Ken’s three sons — John, Bill and Andy — of their rich history. All three are now leaders at Krempp Construction and The Krempp Lumber Company.

Ken's children remember him as a fun dad who made time for and loved to play with his kids.

“You just don’t see that anymore,” Andy said. “I think that’s one of the things that Dad was good at. Instilling on us and instilling on all the employees in the construction business, that we wanted to make sure that our structures ... we wanted a long-lasting structure.”

From the back corner of the company’s warehouse, Stan formed United Cabinet Incorporated, which became Aristokraft and evolved into one of the premiere brands sold under the MasterBrand Cabinets umbrella. Ken was a big part of the company’s development, as the brothers played on each other’s strengths to find success. 

Outside of work, Ken’s daughter, Kenwyn Kealing, remembered her father as a fun dad who made time for and loved to play with his kids. He also loved journeying to Quetico Provincial Park in Canada for fishing and canoeing trips, and relished introducing others to his passions at the large span of wilderness in Ontario.

His love of local history also energized him. A childhood friend to the late John Fierst, who was a local historian, Ken enjoyed tracing local history throughout his life. He took a unique approach to tracing his personal genealogy.

“But he enjoyed more looking into the personalities of the people.” said Jane, Ken’s wife. “He went through all kinds of Herald articles. He liked to get more into the person themselves.”

The avid outdoorsman, Ken loved journeying to Quetico Provincial Park in Canada for fishing and canoeing trips.

Jane (Schneider) met Ken at the Calumet dance hall. He approached her and asked for a dance. She saw the good that filled him and fell in love almost instantly. Before they found each other, Jane was interested in becoming a nun.

“I was really impressed with his goodness and his smile (and his) friendliness,” she said. “And that continued during our life.”

His smile. It was another common thread that wove its way into conversations at the funeral home. And it’s something the Krempp family will never forget.

Ken’s full obituary can be found here.




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