- The Washington Times - Monday, October 17, 2005

Richard Penn Kemble, whose work in spreading democracy spanned the civil rights, labor and international democracy movements, died Oct. 15 at his home in Georgetown after a yearlong battle with brain cancer. He was 64.

Mr. Kemble helped found a number of democracy-advocacy groups including the Institute for Religion and Democracy, the Foundation for Democratic Education, Social Democrats USA and Civitas. He served as acting director of the U.S. Information Agency under President Clinton, as special representative of Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright for the Community of Democracies Initiative and was appointed chairman of International Eminent Persons Group on Slavery, Abduction and Forced Servitude in Sudan by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.

He also worked extensively in public broadcasting and was appointed to the board of International Broadcasting in 1991 by President George Bush.

“Penn Kemble has been clearly recognized not only as a leader of social democracy, but as a global leader of the Liberty Party. He was an American patriot, and never, ever, ashamed to say so,” said Ben Wattenburg, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and co-founder of the Coalition for a Democratic Majority. “Without my hardly knowing it, Penn often led me to think about the expansion of democracy and liberty in the world. Largely through Penn, I learned what my life’s cause would be, and how to go about helping make it happen.”

Mr. Kemble was born in Worcester, Mass. He graduated from the University of Colorado in 1962 and did graduate work at the New School for Social Research and Boston University.

His role in political education and activism began as a student at Colorado where he helped establish the Colorado chapter of the Young People’s Socialist League. After college, he moved to New York City, where he became active in the civil rights movement and the World Without War Council, a pacifist group. He was one of the few whites among the leadership of East River Congress of Racial Equality and in that capacity took part in several civil rights demonstrations.

“He loved what he did, he just loved his work,” his wife of 22 years, Marie-Louise Caravatti, said. “I don’t think he ever found it tiresome. He really enjoyed everything that he did and he would only do things he believed in and enjoyed. He’s remarkable in that he only wanted to do the things that were right.”

Mr. Kemble was an avid handball player with a “wicked” sense of humor, his wife said. He enjoyed reading, traveling, theater and opera.

His battle with brain cancer began in the summer of 2004, when the first in a series of operations removed parts of a cancerous tumor. He continued to work, write and play handball until his last operation in August.

“He was an extraordinary Renaissance man, really,” Mrs. Caravatti said. “Our life was a constant whirlwind, like a tornado. He was a remarkable man, and he taught us all how to live and how to die.”

In addition to his wife, survivors include two sisters, Sarah Kemble and Eugenia Kemble; and a brother, Grover Kemble.

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