Cover photo for James Edward Kempenich's Obituary
James Edward Kempenich Profile Photo
1933 James 2017

James Edward Kempenich

December 10, 1933 — July 12, 2017

James E. (Jim) Kempenich, 83, of Pine City, formerly of Baudette, died at his home on July 12, 2017, surrounded by his loving family.Jim’s life was defined by the joy he took in his family, his faith, and his service to others. Born in Morrison County on December 10, 1933 to Joe and Frances (Simones) Kempenich, he grew up on a small farm outside of Randall, Minnesota. After graduating from Little Falls High School, he went to work as a bacteriologist at the Todd County Dairy Cooperative in Browerville, Minnesota. It was in Browerville that he met his best friend and partner in life. On August 19, 1957, Jim married Pat Holscher at Saint Peter’s Catholic Church in Browerville.In June 1966, Jim and Pat moved with their young family to Baudette where Jim accepted a job as a lab technician with Rowell Laboratories. They lived in Baudette for 50 years, and in addition to his job with Rowells, Jim supported his family through a wide variety of part-time work. From 1973-2003, Jim and his family created a local holiday tradition by transforming their yard into a Christmas tree lot, and Jim always tried to ensure that every family left the lot with their perfect tree. In 1995, Jim retired from Solvay Pharmaceuticals as a validation chemist. He was a parishioner of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, a life-time member of the Knights of Columbus, a member of the Sons of the American Legion, and a leader in the local Moose Lodge. Through his involvement with the Moose Lodge, he became a founding member of the Baudette Oktoberfest committee that brought old-time music and traditional German food to Baudette every fall for almost thirty years.Jim had a life-long love of working with his hands; he was a gardener, a cook, a fisherman, and a carpenter. When Jim and Pat bought the old Spooner Hospital on Baudette’s east side in 1968, few saw the potential in the long-neglected building. Jim updated the house, one room at a time, and transformed the local landmark into his family’s home. Rarely did anyone visit the Kempenich house without enjoying a good meal and leaving with a smile on their face and a jar of pickles, a pint of horseradish, or a ring of sausage in their hands. One of the great joys in Jim’s life was bringing people together for good food and good times.After his retirement, and despite failing eyesight and other health challenges, Jim continued to maintain a beautiful garden and an immaculate yard, and he began building small pieces of furniture and other woodworking projects for family and friends. In 2013, to honor the memory of his five brothers and all who served in the military, he started building memorial flag boxes and donating them to the families of our country’s veterans. Prior to his death, he had gifted almost 200 flag boxes to families across Minnesota, into North and South Dakota and Iowa, and as far away as Montana, Michigan, and Arizona.In November 2016, Jim and Pat sold the big house on the corner in Baudette and moved to Pine City to be closer to family, saying farewell to the community they had known and loved and in which they had raised their family. They were planning one more party for their 60th wedding anniversary which they would have celebrated next month. Jim’s family plans to gather then to celebrate the life that he and Pat built together and the legacy he leaves behind.Jim is survived by his beloved wife Pat Kempenich of Pine City; eight children: Mary (Darrell) Norstebon of Cass Lake, Jean (John) Wolfe of Hudson, Wisconsin, David (Karla) Kempenich of Bemidji, Pat (Mike) Erickson of Pine City, Lois (Ed) Colaprete of Cambridge, Maryland, Dan (Jane) Kempenich of Chisago City, Mark Kempenich of St. Paul, and Janice (Pat) Arthur of Johnston, Iowa; 20 grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; 7 godchildren; sister, Sister Fran Kempenich O.F.S of Little Falls; sister-in-law Marie Drew of Randall; as well as many in-laws, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.He is preceded in death by his parents, Joe and Frances, three sisters, five brothers, and three godchildren. Father Joseph Sirba will celebrate a Mass of Christian Burial for Jim: 10:30 AM; Monday (7/17/17) at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Pine City. A time of visitation and reviewal is planned: 3-8 PM Sunday (7/16/17) at the Swanson Funeral Chapel in Pine City and also one hour prior to the service at the church. The interment will take place at Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Pine City.Funeral arrangements are entrusted to the: Funeral and Cremation Service of Pine City~Swanson Chapel. www.FuneralAndCremationService.com
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Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Sunday, July 16, 2017

3:00 - 8:00 pm (Central time)

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Visitation

Monday, July 17, 2017

9:30 - 10:30 am (Central time)

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

535 8th St SW, Pine City, MN 55063

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Mass of Christian Burial

Monday, July 17, 2017

Starts at 10:30 am (Central time)

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

535 8th St SW, Pine City, MN 55063

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