John Michi Kemper, 67, of Marble Falls, Texas, died May 14, 2020. He suffered from complications associated with Parkinson’s disease. John was born October 21, 1952, in Wichita, Kansas. He was the youngest son of George Alexander Kemper Jr. and Anna Bess “Betsy” Bennett Kemper.
John was an Air Force brat who moved multiple times during his father’s 26-year military career. In 1957, his family traveled to Marble Falls as summer campers. They developed a recreational vehicle park and campground on Backbone Creek called Kemper’s Korner in 1959 and built a home on the site in 1965. John graduated from Marble Falls High School in 1970.
From an early age, John was a successful entrepreneur. He sold marbles in elementary school, manned the gas pumps, boat rentals, and cabins at Kemper’s Korner as a teen, moved mobile homes with his father, and ran the high school dances at the local VFW. He was always planning new adventures with his trusty sidekicks, Belinda and Birney.
John met the love of his life and wife of 47 years, Belinda, in the eighth grade. She and her friends stopped to gas up their boat at Kemper’s Korner. The two became inseparable. In college, while working at a Jack-In-the-Box, John used to write love letters to Belinda on hamburger wrappers when business was slow. The high school sweethearts married at the age of 19.
John attended the University of Texas at Austin but never earned a degree as he left to purchase and run Cottonwood Resort, a 40-unit motel, marina, and bait shop. After four years at Cottonwood, John built a concrete, tilt wall, solar home with his uncle, ran a Wendy’s in Austin, cooked at the Observation Restaurant on Lake Buchanan, and then managed the Country Club of Meadowlakes before purchasing the Blue Bonnet Café from Don Bridges in February 1981.
John turned the Blue Bonnet Café into a world-famous restaurant and served his community well. He helped originate the Walkway of Lights and Lakefest. He actively organized and campaigned for a local hospital for more than 20 years. He also served on numerous civic boards, including the Marble Falls Lake/LBJ Chamber of Commerce, where he acted as president, the Marble Falls Tri-Commission, the Baylor Scott & White Capital Campaign Steering Committee, the Baylor Scott & White Advisory Board of Directors Marble Falls Medical Center, and many others.
In addition, he received the Outstanding Citizen Award, the Ambassador Award, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Marble Falls/Lake LBJ Chamber of Commerce, an Honorary Paul Harris Fellow Award from the Rotary Club of Marble Falls, the Texas Department of State Health Services EMS Citizen Award, the Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas Community Builder Award, the Legacy Fund’s Philanthropy Award, the Sam Walton Business Leader Award, and the Texas Restaurant Association Restaurant Neighbor Award. One of his biggest joys was supporting the Marble Falls Area EMS with a twice-yearly fish fry at the Blue Bonnet Café.
John was a devoted husband, father, brother, grandfather, and friend. He gave generously to the community and worked tirelessly for those whom he loved. He always liked to refer to himself as “just an old café cook,” but to everyone who knew him, he was much more than that. He was an avid hot-tubber, trick-skier, and world traveler who loved to dance to James Brown, make cowboy cookies, eat poached eggs, and cruise Lake Marble Falls in his boat.
His memory will be cherished by his wife, Belinda Kemper; his two children, Lindsay Plante and husband David and Celeste Taylor and husband Nate; and siblings, George “Butch” Kemper and wife Janice, Charles “Chuck” Kemper and wife Cheri, and Betsy Kemper. John is also survived by his four grandchildren, Ella, Camille, John Heyward, and Anna, and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Due to the COVID-19 health pandemic, there will not be a public service at this time. However, there will be a celebration of life later in the year.
Arrangements by Clements-Wilcox Funeral Home of Marble Falls. Online condolences may be made at www.clementswilcoxfuneralhome.com.