Lewis Griswold

He served his small California city and was ‘always willing to help out’

Former Farmersville Mayor J.W. “Jay” Kemp
Former Farmersville Mayor J.W. “Jay” Kemp Special to The Bee

Former Farmersville mayor J.W. “Jay” Kemp has died. He was 86.

Mr. Kemp was an early leader of Farmersville after it became a city. It’s still a small city with a population of 11,600.

Farmersville was incorporated 1960, and Mr. Kemp was appointed to the city council four years later. He served for several years as mayor until he and two other council members were ousted in a recall election.

Harroll Wiley of Visalia, who grew up Farmersville, said Mr. Kemp was not afraid of change.

“He was progressive and he wanted to be part of modern times,” Wiley said. “He was forward looking  He was always willing to help out. He was that kind of guy.”

Mr. Kemp was born May 3, 1930 in Fort Smith, Ark. He grew up in Farmersville and Oakland, and graduated in 1948 from Exeter High, where he was senior class president.

He was always willing to help out. He was that kind of guy.

Harroll Wiley, Visalia

He met his wife Velma Guinn at church and they married in 1950. The couple lived in Exeter for the past 15 years, and she survives him.

His son Dennis Kemp of Visalia said his father was known as J.W. since birth.

The family story is that there was a miscommunication between his mother and the hospital about the baby’s first name and it ended up as JW on the birth certificate. (It was supposed to be Joe Windom, after his paternal and maternal grandfathers.)

Mr. Kemp was a cotton farmer until 1969. To support his family of six children, he opened a used car lot in Farmersville and later got into real estate development. There is a Kemp Street in Farmersville, named after Mr. Kemp’s father, John Henry Kemp.

“There’s a house on Visalia Road called the Kemp House,” said Paul Boyer of Farmersville. Mr. Kemp’s parents once owned the home.

Mr. Kemp was active at Calvary Worship Center in Visalia and was an adult Bible teacher for more than 40 years.

CEO SEARCH: Kaweah Delta Health Care District has launched a national search for a chief executive officer.

CEO Lindsay Mann is leaving after after 36 years in various roles at Kaweah Delta. He will serve in Mexico as a mission president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His last day is on or about March 31.

The board of directors has retained Witt/Kieffer, a national firm, to find a successor. The search is expected to take several months and the recruiter will seek both internal and external candidates.

As part of the hiring process, the board will hold public hearings to gather input from the community about what the district should look for in a candidate. Dates will be announced.

DEPUTY TRAINEE: Explorer Scout Hector Negrete, 20, of Earlimart has been hired as a deputy trainee under the Pathways Scholarship program started by Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux with financial help from the Sence Foundation.

Pathways puts local youths back in their hometowns as sheriff’s deputies after graduation from college and the police academy.

Negrete is the oldest son in a family of five children, which grew to nine when his parents took in his four younger cousins. He is a Delano High grad and will be the first person in his family to get a college degree when he finishes his associate’s degree in business administration this month at San Joaquin Valley College.

He will be assigned to the Pixley substation.

Lewis Griswold covers news of the South Valley for The Bee: 559-441-6104, @fb_LewGriswold

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