Ken Kemp celebrates centenary with 100th birthday cake

Ken Kemp cuts a cake to mark his 100th birthday. 

Ken Kemp cuts a cake to mark his 100th birthday. PICTURE: JEREMY BANNISTER

KEN Kemp has made sure his 100 years have been well lived, marking his centenary on Friday. 

He still has his driver’s licence, which is valid for another two years, although he hasn’t driven since he moved into aged care a few months ago. 

 “My licence ran out a few months ago and they’ve renewed it for another three years,” Mr Kemp said. 

“I’ve had a personalised plate, KK234, which I’ve had for about 30 years – everyone recognised where I was because of the number plate.” 

Mr Kemp served in the Australian air force in World War II.  He joined the RSL in 1946, as well as the Ballarat Royal Australian Air Force Association, then Legacy in 1950.

He was on the hospital board for many years, serving as president for two, and was a member of the Free Masons Lodge for about 75 years. 

“You get so much more rewards without realising it for what you’ve done (being in community groups),” Mr Kemp said. 

“Especially looking after children at Legacy. That’s been my great reward in life, to see them grow up and become successful in life.

“We didn’t have much money in those days. We had to rely on the generosity of the general public to keep us going.”

He continues to see one woman from Legacy, which he has helped since childhood. 

“One of my first families had two children – one was three and one was five, and my own children were the same. I saw those children grow up and now one of them is a grandmother.” 

Tasmanian born, Mr Kemp moved to Ballarat after World War II.

“I met a lass when I was training in Ballarat in 1941. When I came back I married her.” He had three daughters to his first wife, who he lost after 13 years of marriage. 

“When I remarried, she had four children and then we had one boy between us. 

“So at one stage we had eight around the table and they were all very young. I was able to cope with that financially but I wouldn’t like to be doing it now. 

“My second marriage lasted for 42 years. We had a long, happy marriage for 42 years.”

He has about 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. 

Mr Kemp joined Doepel Lilley and Taylor with his father-in-law, where he became principal for 30 years. 

Mr Kemp’s tip for a long and healthy life was to stay active. 

“I’ve been pretty active for most of my life and I think that’s put me in good stead for my later years.” 

Legacy will hold a celebratory lunch on Friday for Mr Kemp, before a family lunch at Daylesford on Saturday. 

“I reckon (the celebrations) will see me out. I’ll be exhausted by the end,” he joked.


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