Colonel Kemp Hoy Denning, Jr.(Ret) , 88, died Sunday, October 25, 2009, at home in Boyce, Virginia. Born March 6th, 1921, Gallatin, TN, son of Ruth Durham Denning and Kemp Hoy Denning, Sr., he married Jessie Louise Pruett, of Gainesboro, TN in 1944.
A 1939 graduate of Gallatin High School, he received his Bachelor of Military Science through the University of Maryland at the University of Heidelberg in 1955, and his Master of Business Administration from George Washington University in 1967. He also attended the Air Command and Staff School, the Armed Forces Staff College, and The Industrial College of the Armed Forces. Enlisting in the Army Air Corps at Ft. Knox, KY in 1940 as a weather observer, he received his officer’s commission in 1944 after attaining the rank of Master Sergeant in meteorology.
Assignments in the Air Weather Service included the Philippines, Japan and Europe. Becoming a logistics officer, he served on the Joint Staff for the Commander in Chief of U.S. forces in the Pacific (CINCPAC) in Hawaii, and two tours of duty at the Pentagon, first with the USAF headquarters and later on the staff of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He subsequently worked as chief of Titan rocket support at Hill AFB, and served his final tour of duty as Director of Material Requirements at USAF Logistical Headquarters at Wright Patterson AFB.
Recognized many times for his outstanding service, Col. Denning notably received the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Eagle Star Meritorious Service Medal, and the prestigious Legion of Merit Medal. Following his retirement from the Air Force in 1972, he returned to Gallatin and practiced real estate for over twenty years. He served two years as commander of the John T. Alexander American Legion Post 17, 1975-7.
In 1984 he was named “Realtor of the Year” by the Board of Realtors of Sumner County. During these years he was also recognized for his service to the community as a Kentucky Colonel, an honor bestowed by the governor of Kentucky, and as an Aide de Camp for Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander. Gallatin honored him and his wife, declaring June 17, 1982 to be “Kemp and Louise Denning Day”.
A dedicated Rotarian for over thirty six years, he became widely regarded for his leadership in the Tennessee and Virginia districts. A special interest was Rotary International’s worldwide polio eradication program. Joining Rotary in 1973, he was president of the Gallatin Rotary Club,1979-1980. He served as Rotary District 6760 Governor from1981-2; was District Representative to the RI Council on Legislation, 1983; and was on the Zone Institute Executive Committee 1982-4.
Rotary International President William Skelton chose him to be his personal representative in 1984. Additionally, Col. Denning served District 6760 as chair of the: District Finance Committee (4 years); District Foundation Committee (5 years); District PolioPlus Campaign (3 years); and District International Service Committee (8 years). In 1991 he received the Rotary Foundation Citation for Meritorious Service. After the death of his beloved wive of 53 years, he moved to Clarke County, Virginia in 1997 to be with his granddaughter and her parents.
Now in District 7570, he continued his dedication to Rotary, serving on a variety of committees and actively participating in the district’s Council of Governors. Seeing an opportunity to expand Rotary’s presence in the area, he, his friend Rev. Joseph Kerr and District Representative Ron Napier worked to found the Rotary Club of Clarke County in October of 1998. A Paul Harris Fellow since 1980, Col. Denning repeated that honor seven times; became a Rotary Foundation Benefactor, Sustainer and Major Donor; a William “Bill” Skelton Fellow; was a District 7570 Service Award recipient; and was instrumental in guiding the Rotary Club of Clarke County to be the first club in district 7570 to have100% of its membership become Paul Harris Fellows.
The Rotary Club of Clarke County declared the occasion, October 14, 2009, Kemp H. Denning Jr. Day, a distinction that will be remembered every second Wednesday of October. The club also named its high school scholarship in his memory.
Col. Denning was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Thomas, and his wife. He is survived by his daughter, Cynthia Leahy, her husband Thomas Paul Leahy and granddaughter, Emma Louise Leahy, all of Boyce, Virginia; sister, Evelyn Emery of Castallian Springs, Tennessee.
Funeral services with full military honors will be held at Gallatin Funeral Home, in Gallatin, Tennessee 10 a.m., Saturday, October 31. A reception following the burial will be at the Hartsville Church of Christ. A memorial celebration will be held in Winchester, VA 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7 at the Southside Church of Christ with a reception following.
In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made in Kemp H. Denning’s name to the Rotary Foundation, 14280 Collections Center Drive, Chicago, Illinois,60693, www.rotary.org ; or to Blue Ridge Hospice, 333 W. Cork St., Suite 405, Winchester, VA, 22601. Gallatin Funeral Home & Memory Gardens at Crestview is in charge of the arrangements.