How the Lake was Built
When President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the American New Deal to restore America and create American jobs after the Great Depression, one of the programs created was the Works Progress Administration. The WPA employed millions of Americans on public works projects that improved cities with the construction of new buildings and improved roads.
Kemp Lake was one of these employment opportunities in 1939.
The Kemp Family
The lake was originally called Grotemac Lake, a mix of the two previous owners' names: the McWilliams and the Groteweil families.
In 1956, Fred & Mollie Kemp bought the properties and renamed the lake “Kemp Lake”, though Fred Kemp would pass away shortly after.
For some 30 years, fishermen in the Crawford County area could rent aluminum boats and fish the well-stocked lake. The lake became known for big stringers of bass as well as hearty buckets of crappie and bluegill. Most who fished there were greeted by Mollie – a tough German immigrant who ran the farm with a stern hand and generous heart. In the late 1980s, Mollie, who now was in her eighties, moved back to St. Louis to be with the rest of her family.
In 1999, Mollie Kemp passed away at the age of 97. Kemp Lake was then passed down to her two sons: Fred II and Joseph Kemp. Fred Kemp passed away soon after in 2004, and Joe Kemp in 2011.
It is now owned by the Fred M. Kemp Foundation and managed by Fred Kemp III, who has converted it into a lake for people beyond just the Kemp family or Crawford County. Inspired by the generosity of Mollie and the bountiful nature of the farm, as well as through the financial backing of the Fred M Kemp Foundation, Kemp Lake is able to provide its splendor to many disabled people every year. With the help of his wife Mary, his daughter Emily, and his son Fred Kemp IV, the legacy of Kemp Lake is able to inspire new people every day to deepen their relationships with nature.