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Loss of a Hill Country health care hero

John Kemper

John Kemper passed away May 14, 2020. Courtesy photo

In the middle of National Healthcare Appreciation Week, which was May 10-16, the Marble Falls community lost one of its greatest champions for quality, local health care when John Kemper passed away May 14. While John was well-known both as the proprietor of the iconic Blue Bonnet Café and for his longstanding commitment to community service, he also was one of the driving forces that made Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Marble Falls a reality when the hospital opened in 2015.

Those who served with John on the Baylor Scott & White-Marble Falls Hospital Advisory Board remember his advocacy for bringing a hospital to Marble Falls going back more than 20 years. He rightly believed that having readily available access to quality primary and specialty medical care was essential to keeping our part of the Hill Country thriving. He was the vital, if behind-the-scenes, link between community members and health care system representatives that was needed to bring the right care to this area.

But John did far more than advocate. He was a key leader on the hospital’s Development Advisory Board, reaching out to his vast network to help raise $17 million to help fund the hospital. Many surely gave simply because of how much they respected John and his belief in the project. In addition, John and his family also have been among the Baylor Scott & White Central Texas Foundation’s most consistent supporters going back 25 years, and his wife, Belinda, was a founding member of the Communities Connected women’s giving circle, which supports hospital initiatives.

As a member of both the Development Advisory Board and later the Hospital Advisory Board, John was known for making things happen — sometimes by hosting meetings and connecting people at his beloved Blue Bonnet Café. True to his personality, he was always able to do so calmly and kindly. He was an incredible ambassador for the hospital and our entire community.

One of his final loving acts for our local health care providers came in April. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and his own health battle, he donated many of his famous pies to feed the Baylor Scott & White-Marble Falls team. His generous gift, along with similar acts by others in the community, has had a profound impact as a show of support.

So as we mourn John’s passing, we remember his kindness and invaluable role in bringing a new level of health care to the Hill Country as part of his rich legacy.

This column was written by the Hill Country region leadership team for Baylor Scott & White Health.