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Polly Kemp

Polly Kemp passed away peacefully at her home in Gardiner, Montana, where she resided for the past 27 years.


She was born on May 2, 1928, in Kidder, South Dakota, where she attended grade school and high school. She received a scholarship to the Minneapolis Medical Technology School from which she graduated. She worked as a medical technician for Dr. Baker and Dr. Jones. Later she attended the University of Minnesota earning a B.A. in English Literature.


In 1960, she joined her partner, Curt Owynne, in Italy. They created a language school, Centro Linguistico, where English as a second language was taught. Returning to the states in 1968, she worked for two years as the public relations officer at Douglas Air Force Base in Rapid City, South Dakota.


Receiving a scholarship from the University of Illinois, she earned a Masters degree. On graduation she joined Dr. Merle Karnes’ staff at the University. Polly created an “open classroom” for young gifted children based on the British model. She taught in the classroom as well as train interns who were earning their Masters degree.


In 1975, she and her partner, Mark Williams,traveled to Mexico and lived in Cuernavaca, Mexico for a year. On returning to the states, both accepted jobs as media specialists for the many projects directed by Dr. Merle Karnes at the University of Illinois. Polly retired from the University of Illinois in 1997 and moved to Gardiner, Montana.


Preceding her in death were her parents, Viola and Herman Kemp of Keystone, South Dakota; her sister, Jeri Wallace of Charlotte, North Carolina; and brother, Jim Kemp, of Gardiner, Montana. Remaining family members are niece, Gwen Lea Ray (MIke), Pagosa Springs, Colorado, and their children and grandchildren; as well as, nephew Greg Kemp (Christie), Glendive, Montana, and their children and grandchildren.


A memorial service will be held at 1 pm on June 11, 2024, at Franzen-Davis Funeral Home.

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