By John Swansburg, New York Times, April 1, 2001

AT Mamaroneck High School, sophomores take a history course known as Global 10. The class begins its journey in 1750 and moves at the frenetic pace necessary to arrive in the present by June. It’s usually mid-March by the time students turn their attention to World War II. This March, they are not alone: people throughout the community here are thinking about the war — and, more broadly, about the relationship between the past and the future.

The Board of Education is now preparing a five-year, $49 million plan to improve schools’ facilities. Much of the renovation will take place at the high school. In addition to architectural improvements, the plans originally called for rotating the school’s football field 90 degrees to make room for a new entrance, safer parking and a soccer field.

In order to rotate the field, however, the school would need to relocate the Richard M. Kemper Memorial, a park and monument dedicated to Mamaroneck High students who died in World War II. The memorial has stood near the school’s Boston Post Road entrance since 1946.

The plan to move the memorial has met with staunch opposition from relatives of Richard Kemper, in particular Paul Cantor, Mr. Kemper’s nephew, and Mr. Cantor’s brother Richard, who was named for his uncle. ”We are really outraged,” Paul Cantor said. ”We are going to fight.”

Because of the family’s objections, the board decided recently to postpone the decision on the memorial so as not to delay a vote on the other elements of the plan. It has not, however, scrapped its initial proposal. The board is looking into alternatives to moving the memorial, but the board’s president, Ronda Lustman, said its options are limited by the site. The board is therefore also exploring its legal rights, should it choose to proceed over the objections of the Cantor family.

Lt. Richard Kemper, class of 1937, was killed in battle on Aug. 6, 1944, near Mortain, France. Two years later, his father, Adolph Kemper, bought land near the high school where he and his wife, Helen, dedicated a monument bearing the names of the 98 men and one woman from the school who died in the war.

After the dedication, the Kempers donated the monument and the park to the school district. In the deed, they asked that the land ”be held and maintained in perpetuity for public and school uses as a memorial to the late Lt. Richard Kemper, and the other students and former students . . . who gave their lives in the service of the United States of America in World War II.”

The school board and Mr. Kemper’s relatives interpret this directive differently.

The school believes it can fulfill its duty by maintaining the monument, but in a new location. Dr. Sherry King, superintendent of schools, said that honoring Adolph Kemper’s wishes has always been the school’s intention. ”But we want to do that with a plan that will speak to the community as it exists now,” she said. ”I don’t think those two goals are mutually exclusive.”

Dr. King believes moving the monument would, in fact, increase its presence on the school’s grounds. ”We are looking at the possibility of moving the memorial to a more central location and to one that would be beautifully landscaped,” she said. ”Not everyone knows about the memorial, and by moving it we could enhance the whole location for everyone.”

For Mr. Kemper’s family, however, moving the memorial is simply not an option. ”We consider that park sacred,” Paul Cantor said.  Mr. Cantor is not alone in his belief. On March 13, Richard Cantor spoke to the Larchmont Historical Society about the memorial’s future. Jan Northrup, the society’s president, said Mr. Cantor delivered ”an incredibly moving speech.” The result was a unanimous vote by the society to draft a resolution stating its ”unequivocal opposition” to relocating the memorial.

Ms. Northrup said she believed that Adolph Kemper intended the memorial to be composed not just of the monument, but of the entire surrounding park as well. She believes his vision is evident in the language of the deed. ”No matter how inconvenient the park is right now, his message couldn’t have been any clearer,” she said.

The dialogue between the school administration and the Cantor family has been strained from the beginning. The family is upset because it feels the board tried to move ahead with its plans without the family’s consent.

Dr. King said she did not know of the Cantor family at the time the initial plans were drafted, and regrets that the board acted without consulting them. ”We have apologized profusely,” she said. ”The moment we became aware of the Cantor family we reached out to them.”

The Cantors do not live in Mamaroneck, and Paul Cantor, who teaches economics at the University of Massachusetts, admitted that the memorial — and his family’s connection to it — had been largely forgotten. That is why Mr. Cantor approached the school in August with the hope of reviving the memorial’s role in the school community.

Mr. Cantor met with the principal, Mark Orfinger, and Lorna Minor, the chairwoman of the social studies department, to discuss ideas for making the memorial part of the school’s curriculum. Ms. Minor said she was not aware of the memorial’s significance. ”I’ve been teaching here for 30 years and I never knew about it,” she said. ”I knew it was there, but I didn’t know what it was.”

As soon as the memorial was brought to her attention, Ms. Minor said, she realized it was an untapped resource. ”We thought it could help make history come alive,” she said.

Mary Cronin, a history teacher at the school, recently tested Ms. Minor’s theory. The day after quizzing her Global 10 class on the battles of World War II, she took them to visit the memorial. Asking her students to quietly reflect, she read the names on the monument out loud. ”A couple of times I could feel my voice catch,” she said. ”You can’t help but be moved by it.”

Several students shared Ms. Cronin’s emotional response. Lucy Malcolm wrote afterward of the experience: ”It was very moving. It was very weird to go back to our class and think that those people possibly sat in this room. It was interesting to hear the names because many of the names are familiar to me. I definitely felt some kind of presence being there.”

Both Ms. Lustman and Mr. Cantor want students to learn from the memorial, but Ms. Lustman said her duty to the taxpayers also requires her to provide for the many students here who learn on the playing field. Mr. Cantor said that if the board decides to move the monument, the only lesson it will be teaching is that it’s acceptable to break a promise.

Ms. Minor hopes that no matter what the outcome, the dispute, like the memorial itself, will provide an opportunity for learning. ”It will be very interesting to see how the public debate adds to these historical lessons,” she said.


by Adam Bisno, The Globe, 2001

Anyone driving through Mamaroneck on the Boston Post Road passes the granite monument between the high school parking lot and the street.  Why, then, do so few people know it exists?

Mr. Paul Cantor, a grandson of the memorial’s founders, posed the question first.  With his and Mamaroneck High School Social Studies teacher Lorna Minor’s help in providing invaluable letters and newspaper articles, I have pieced together the forgotten history of the Kemper Memorial. Richard Kemper, for whom the memorial was named and dedicated, graduated from Mamaroneck High School with the class of 1937.

The yearbook of that year praised “Dick” as a most affable young man.  After the outbreak of World War II, Richard Kemper joined the war effort and was stationed in Britain as an office worker.  In his letters home, Lieutenant Kemper wrote on subjects ranging from war to the quirks of British schoolchildren.  The letters are a valuable testimony of Richard Kemper’s experiences before his request to be sent to the front lines.

In the summer of 1944, Richard arrived in Normandy. Excited to be in command at the Battle of the Hedgerows, of which he wrote to his parents, Richard Kemper was fatally wounded by an exploding shell during battle on August 6, 1944. Adolph and Helen Kemper, Richard’s parents, saved his letters for posterity, but they felt they should do more to preserve the memories of their son and the other men who lost their lives in World War II.

In 1946, the Kempers purchased land adjacent to the high school, constructed a park and erected a granite monument bearing about one hundred names of Gold Star men from Mamaroneck and Larchmont.  Adolph Kemper then donated the park and monument to the school district. The speeches given at the memorial’s dedication upheld the values for which the men died: liberty, justice and peace.  The Richard M. Kemper Memorial Park should preserve and uphold those values for the future classes of MHS.  Adolph Kemper reminded those present that there is no justification for the destruction of war and, furthermore, that the values for which his son and his son’s contemporaries gave their lives ought not be forgotten.

Paul Cantor has suggested that Mamaroneck High School sponsor an essay contest in which students would either research one name on the monument or write an essay on the values for which the men sacrificed themselves.  Although this proposal has not been effected this year, Ms. Minor will use Richard Kemper’s letters in her American history classes and perhaps lead a visit to the park, itself.  Through the introduction of Richard Kemper’s letters and memory in Mamaroneck classes, the memorial will hopefully cease to drift into obscurity.”



By Barbara Whitaker Barbara Whitaker, New York Times, Oct. 8, 2006

MAMARONECK, N.Y. – THE battle over whether to move the Richard M. Kemper Memorial, a park and monument dedicated to Mamaroneck High School students who died in World War II, to make room for more school playing fields has gone on about as long as the war that claimed the lives of those honored there.

At issue is about a half-acre of land adjacent to Mamaroneck High that was bought in 1945 by Adolph and Helen Kemper, whose son, Richard, was killed in the war. The Kempers donated the land to the Mamaroneck School District, and the couple set up a memorial park on the land, placing a monument there that lists the names of Lieutenant Kemper and 98 others from the district killed during the war.

But the park is right near the school’s football field, and in 2000 the district began considering using the half acre as playing space. Saying the school needed more playing fields, the district in 2003 formally proposed shifting the memorial park about 40 yards south to other school property.

Relatives of the Kempers said that such a move was not in keeping with the spirit in which the land was donated. Richard Cantor, a grandson of the Kempers’, filed suit in 2004.

“I think it’s outrageous,” said Jean Hoffman, the Kempers’ daughter. She said that when her parents created the memorial, it was “all done with the idea that it would be forever.”

Mamaroneck village trustees feel the same way, and now they are getting involved. Last month, they voted unanimously to retain a law firm to examine whether the village has legal standing to prevent the park from being moved. But the trustees have held off on hiring a law firm and are meeting with interested groups to try to come up with a solution.

The village decided to get involved after the State Court of Appeals declined in late August to hear the case, leaving intact a January decision by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court that would allow the school board to move the park. That ruling had overturned a decision by the State Supreme Court in 2005 that the park could not be moved.

Eliot Spitzer, who as attorney general is responsible for protecting charitable gifts, had ruled in 2004 that the park could indeed be moved, a ruling the Appellate Division cited in overturning the Supreme Court. Mr. Spitzer found that a playing field would be in keeping with a clause in the deed requiring the property be “held and maintained in perpetuity for public and school uses as a memorial.”

Municipal and school district officials, along with a parents’ group that is working to find more field space, have been meeting to try to resolve the issue outside the courtroom. Municipal and district officials are looking at fields in the area to see if more playing space could be created from existing fields, said Cecilia Absher, president of the Mamaroneck Board of Education.


By Jan Northrup, May 22, 2022


Following the death of his son, Lt. Richard Kemper, during the Normandy Campaign in France, Adolph Kemper purchased the land and financed the construction to create Kemper Memorial Park and the Monument honoring his son and the other residents of the Mamaroneck and Larchmont communities who perished in World War II. The Park was then bequeathed to the Mamaroneck School District to remain, in perpetuity, as a memorial to the sacrifices made by those individuals to preserve our freedom.  Our community has seen many changes during the seventy-five years that have passed since the May 25,1947 dedication ceremony, but what remains steadfast is our promise to honor the memory of the members of that past generation who sacrificed so much for us. To reinforce that commitment, we invite you to attend The Kemper Memorial Park Rededication Ceremony on May 25 at 3:15 p.m. At that time, you will hear the donor’s original wish for the Park’s future and The Mamaroneck School District’s vow to honor it. Additionally, you will see the results of the collaboration between the School District and the Kemper Memorial Park Preservation Fund to beautify and enhance the Park for school and community use.  The Rededication Ceremony will be held in Kemper Memorial Park, weather permitting, and moved indoors to the Mamaroneck High School Auditorium if necessary. We hope you can join us!


By Paul Cantor, Richard Kemper’s Nephew, May 25, 2022.

Today is the 75th anniversary of the founding of Richard Kemper Memorial Park.  That is cause for celebration.  So, thank you for being here to celebrate with us.

Thank you especially to Jan and Bruce Northrup, Susan and Tom Amlicke, Mary Cronin and John Esposito, Ed Cofino,  Tony Marsella (who sadly is no longer with us), and Tony’s daughter Dona and all the other members of the Kemper Memorial Park Preservation Fund and to Peter Greene and to all the student participants in the Preservation Fund’s essay contests and to  all those who fought to preserve the park when years ago it was under threat of being turned into a playing field.  And thank you, too, to the Preservation Fund for repairing the monument and putting the park into the beautiful shape it is in today and for turning it into a living memorial with its essay contest and website.

Finally, a special thank you is due Rick Marsico.   As a member of the school board Rick helped to convince his fellow members and others of the park’s importance to students and the community.   Without his support and the support of those who came together to form the Preservation Fund we wouldn’t be here today to pay tribute to our servicewomen and servicemen who sacrificed and sacrifice so much for all of us.

Now for a few more words about the Kemper Memorial Park Preservation Fund.  The primary goals of the Preservation Fund are to “preserve, protect and restore Richard M. Kemper Park in its present location and configuration and to educate the community about the history and significance of the Park as a memorial to the veterans of World War II.”  Hence, by visiting its website you can learn about the fight to save the park, the background of the 101 individuals whose names are inscribed on its stone monument, the Birdman of Chippewa Falls, and more.

The Birdman of Chippewa Falls, Charles Kemper, Richard Kemper’s first cousin was born on December 29, 1919.  Richard was born one month later.

In World War II, Richard was killed in the Battle of the Hedgerows, the allies’ effort to push the Germans out of Normandy and out of France after the fall of Cherbourg.  In World War II, Charles was a flight surgeon in the Pacific.    Fortunately, he survived the war and spent 40 years as a country doctor in Chippewa Falls Wisconsin who in his spare time banded birds for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  This year, come December 29, Charles will be 103!  Thank you, Charles!  We are proud of you and Richard and all our servicewomen and servicemen past and present.

Lastly, I want to stress the reason my grandparents, Adolph and Helen Kemper, and my mother established this park on these grounds 75 years ago.  The three of them visualized the park as having two purposes.  

First, they wanted it to be a special place where they, along with all members of the community, could come to remember and pay tribute to Richard and others who fought and died defending the enlightenment values embodied in our country’s founding documents. 

Second, they wanted its location by the high school to inspire students, teachers, and everyone else to think about how they might contribute to the struggle to create a just and peaceful world. 

Hence, with that thought in mind the Kemper Human Rights Education Foundation was founded.  The Kemper Human Rights Education Foundation sponsors two human rights essay contests: one for high school students in the U.S. and one for students who are citizens and residents of other countries. The essays are due on Human Rights Day, December 10, and the winning ones are available on the foundation’s khref.org website.  Just google Kemper Human Rights to find the website.   

Again, thank you for coming to this 75th anniversary celebration of the founding of Richard Kemper Memorial Park.  I know my grandparents, Adolph and Helen Kemper, and my uncle Richard, would be proud that 75 years after its founding the Park continues to bring young and old together to remember the sacrifices of our WWII veterans and to think hard about how to create a just world order in which wars no longer take place and no one experiences the pain they experienced by losing a loved one in armed conflict.