Canton Loses an American Hero
(Canton, OH) – Canton has lost a true American hero, Richard J. “Dick” Kempthorn. Mr. Kempthorn was 92 years old.
Born October 23, 1926, Mr. Kempthorn was a native of Canton, a linebacker and blocking back on Canton McKinley High School’s football team in the early 1940’s and a collegiate athlete, but more than that, he served his country in two wars.
After high school, Mr. Kempthorn was admitted to the Merchant Marine Academy, but before his deployment, he played six football games for Miami of Ohio. In the Merchant Marine, he served on the crew of the cargo ship USS Wild Hunter, which participated in the invasion of the Philippines. After World War II, he chose to transfer to the University of Michigan, where he was described as “the roughest young man we’ve had around here.” He played on the undefeated national championship teams for the University of Michigan in 1947 and 1948, and was the Most Valuable Player on the team in 1949. After college, Mr. Kempthorn could have named his own price and played for any team he wanted in the NFL, but chose instead to return to Canton and join his father’s Dodge-Chrysler auto dealership.
When the Korean conflict broke out, he chose to serve his country again, this time in the United States Air force as a fighter pilot, where he flew more than 100 missions and earned the distinguished Flyer Cross for bravery. In 1953, he returned to Canton and was courted by Cleveland Browns coach Paul Brown, but rejected pro football once again in favor of working at the family business. He bought the business from his father in 1964. Since then, Mr. Kempthorn, and now his three children, have had a constant presence in Canton. Until recently, Mr. Kempthorn reported to work at 1449 Cleveland Avenue every day. Richard J. Kempthorn; football standout, American hero, businessman and loving father.