Mrs. Esther Phillips Kemp was born November 25, 1913 in Monticello, Illinois
to the late Charles E. Phillips, Sr. and Juanita G. Overton Phillips. She was one of four children born into this union. Mrs. Kemp was a faithful member and worker in Bethel AME Church. She served as a steward, lay reader, and a member of the LouAnna Riley Missionary Society. She also worked as an advisor to the Biblical Art
Group. She served as administrative assistant to four pastors including the Rev. Steven A. Jackson. She was also a member of the National Council of Negro Women. In November 1993, Mrs. Kemp received the Valiant Lady award from the Church Women United Organization in which she served as president until her illness.
Mrs. Kemp retired from the Federal Civil Service where she performed as a procurement contract agent. On March 31, 1939, in Petersburg, Illinois, she was united in Holy Matrimony to Attorney John M. Kemp. On Wednesday, January 26, 1994,
at 2:10 a.m. Mrs. Kemp passed away. Her relatives include one brother, Mr. David R. Phillips, Champaign; nieces
Debrae Lomax, Champaign; Jacqueline Brown, Los Angeles, California; Anita Lomax, Urbana; Kimberly Lomax, Champaign;
Astriana Pierson, Urbana; Melva Phillips, Champaign; and one nephew, David Wilson, Urbana. Mrs. Kemp was preceded in death by her parents, two brothers, and one sister.
Esther Kemp was heavily involved in Church Women United. The following information comes from a 1993 award given to her by the group:
"The Women of the Champaign-Urbana Unit of Church Women United wish to honor Mrs. Esther Phillips Kemp as our "Valiant Woman", at our World Community Day Celebration. Esther is most deserving of this recognition for her years of devotion and service to our Unit, her Church and Community. She served as Secretary to Louise Leonard, Past President, (deceased) for several years and most recently as President of our Unit from 1988 thru 1992. Through her leadership, our Unit attained a great measure of growth, not only in our spirituality, but also included an increase in the number of churches involved in our Unit. For the past two years, her health has become very fragile - nonetheless her love for Church Women United has not wavered. It has been her reason for living."