USS Whitehurst Logo by: Pat Stephens, Webmaster, DESA

The First Reunion, June 1967, St. Petersburg, Florida

Contributors: Mildred Kemper, C.D. "Marty" Martin, Bud Allgren, Al Crawford

Hosts BTG2 Russ & Mildred Kemper


Front l to r: Miller Roberts, Roy Hasty, "Marty" Martin,  Dan DeNardis, James "Boats" McDermott
Back: Gene Parsons, Glover Cameron,  John Yeoman, Russ Kemper, Al Crawford, Don Lindgren, Ted Kuflewski,  Jack Farmer, Bob Penny

 Russ & Mildred Kemper

Mildred Kemper 2002

 Russ Kemper  1972

The first reunion was planned, organized, and hosted by Russell and Mildred Kemper.  Mildred won't take much credit for that but she probably deserves more  than she accepts.  Her and Russ hosted two reunions.   She and daughter, Nancy, hosted another after Russ had passed away.  At some point in time the Whitehurst vets who had been attending the reunions made her an honorary member of the crew.  She  attends all the reunions no matter how far they are from Florida.  The following paragraph as well as all the material on the first reunion was provided by Mildred and Nancy... mc

Mildred was saying that she really had nothing to do with the organization of the 1st reunion.  She does remember that she and Russ were staying at the Dolphin Motel and as they sat around, Russ said "I'd like to have the guys come down here."  That's the first she knows of the idea.  I don't know if it was  a year later that it happened or longer. 

 I can remember my father typing away on a old  manual typewriter, doing all his communications.  The typewriter was extremely manual and you had to really punch it.  He used both index fingers and really went to town.  

 The motel was really lovely.  Most rooms were efficiencies.  Just a very full of salt air and sea breeze , Florida place at the beach. 

 He had a welcome sign made for the motel, one 4 x 8 was put at Johns Pass (a bridge you'll cross about 10 minutes before the motel) and we even drove a little homemade one up to the Florida-Georgia border (about 5 hours from our house)... Nancy Kemper 

1967 Season’s Greetings to All

(Russ Kemper's Christmas letter)

 As We approach the end of another year and the celebration of our Lord’s birth in Bethlehem, the Kemper family hopes that each of you and yours have had a most successful and happy year, for we have had a most happy and joyous one here in Florida.  This letter is meant not only as a salutation to all for the Christmas season, but also as an informative one as to the highlight of the passing year to us – the first reunion of the Whitehurst crew in 16 years, held here in Florida this past June 27th at Busch Gardens with a dinner at the Swiss House adjacent thereto.

We are all grateful to Al Crawford, who acted as M. C., for the wonderful and magnificent job that he did.

Needless to say, we had a MOST wonderful time of getting together again, seeing approximately 50 people (including children of all ages) present from all parts of the country.  For several of these good folk, this was their first trip to Florida; and they really enjoyed t thoroughly.  We were most fortunate to obtain a motel for the entire crew and their families at the Dolphin Motel on St. Petersburg Beach.  Mrs. Ann Gorr, the proprietress, was most gracious and hospitable in every respect toward us all during our weeks stay there.  Jim “Boats” McDermott brought his boatswain’s pipe with him and piped reveille the first morning we were all together.  What a riot!  The whole community came alive that Sunday morn at 6 A.M.  Lights went on all over the place, and people poured out of their apartments in their pajamas and housecoats to see what was going on.  Naturally the whole community was at a dead calm at that time of the day and this shrill whistle comes blasting through the air’ you would think it was an air raid alarm.  Ha! Ha!  Well, this was just the beginning of the fun-filled time we had down here in Florida.  Ice cold beer was served 7 days a week around the clock, compliments of Anheuser-Busch, as well as COLD draft beer and soft drinks, served to us in the private room set aside for our comfort and convenience while touring Busch Gardens.  There were the moonlight swims in the Gulf of Mexico at 1 and 2 o’clock in the morning with the water temperature standing near the 80-degree mark.  

Al Crawford made arrangements with a nearby restaurant for an old fashioned dinner which we all enjoyed tremendously.  Of course, there were the deep-sea fishing trips that were enjoyed by many.  All in all, this was a successful, fun-filled and happy reunion and we are looking forward to the same at our next one planned for 1972, by majority vote of those present.

 No definite place or date has been set as yet, for we want to use the years between now and 1970 to locate and contact as many of our shipmates as possible and spend the remaining time for the selection of date, location and sponsor's] for our next one.  Since so many live in the Middle West and on the West Coast, it has been suggested that the next on be held in the St. Louis-Kansas City area (though I will sponsor the next one here in Fla. Should the majority wish to return.)  THINK ON THIS AND WRITE ME YOUR THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS!  The writer is still the central point of contact of all opinions and addresses, as well as being willing to help in all ways possible the promotion of the next reunion where and how I possibly can.  

Attached herewith is an up-to-date- muster list of our former shipmates (as of November 15, 1967) with phone numbers, wives’ names etc.  I am asking and PLEADING each of you to PLEASE  look through your list of names and addresses so that I can contact and verify them in order to keep this list as up to date as possible!  

You will note that Crawford, as well as Lester, is still in the service.  Lester’s address will be changing soon, as he is scheduled to go back to sea on an AE in January of 1968; but he will keep us posted as to his mailing address when it changes.  

If I have made any errors in any way on this muster list, PLEASE feel free to let me know in order that I may correct them as soon as possible.

 In order to explain the early post mark on this greeting, the Kemper “tribe” is leaving Florida on a 3-week vacation December 10, headed for Kingman, Arizona to see the Scotts (weather and road conditions permitting) to tell them of the wonderful time they missed and show them pictures – many of them – taken of the gang and their families, hoping they will be able to attend the next planned reunion (as outlined previously in this letter).  

Yes, the Kempers, more especially me, are great planners (sometimes dreamers), as we have the next three years of vacations already planned and laid out as to where we are going:  

1968 – Minneapolis-St. Paul area;  1969 – Michigan and upper East Coast area to see the many, many friends and shipmates there; 1970 – We are HOPING to go to West Germany and Holland to visit and sightsee.  The visit to Holland would be to see a family we have never met but have been in contact with their 16-year-old boy who wrote me from Rotterdam where he read my ad for the reunion in “All Hands”;  and we have been in contact with one another corresponding regularly ever since, exchanging postage stamps and general information.  In return, he has sent Mildred some tulip bulbs (“The American Flag”) for planting in her flowerbeds.  

The vacation plans I described above are flexible enough to be changed, should YOU wish another reunion prior to the 5-year plan I explained earlier.  

In closing this, the Kempers want to thank you all for being our friends and wish you and yours a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND JOYOUS NEW YEAR!

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