MADISON—Thomas Haynes Kemble, on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018, Tom died as he lived – with integrity and on his own terms. He was at home with family, and at 90 years old still had all his own teeth. His one request when moving to Madison in 2011 was, “Build me a home to die in.”
The School Road family compound is characterized by a sense of solidarity and abundance of food, hospitality, comfort and love. Tom and Joan carried this sensibility from their farm and bed and breakfast in Glastonbury, Conn.
Family was Tom’s foundation. Raised in Marion, Iowa he was one of five brothers and one sister who have been steadfastly connected, gathering for week long family reunions every other year since 1961. Tom and Joan had four daughters and adopted a son. Tom was diligent about the upkeep of the birth date list of his descendants.
Growing food was Tom’s great joy. He was a pioneer organic farmer, working for decades to build soil that would nurture his beloved corn and raised generations of animals and poultry for the table.
Social justice was Tom’s great passion. He raised his voice and his fist to advocate and agitate for single-payer, universal healthcare, racial justice, abolishing the death penalty, and other issues promoting popular power.
Music was Tom’s enduring spiritual practice. Playing the French Horn, singing, and basking in the performances of others connected him to the Universal Life Force. He was a frequent and enthusiastic singer at the longest-running musical protest in world history, the Solidarity Sing Along, held every weekday at noon at The Wisconsin State Capitol Rotunda.
Continuous learning was Tom’s sustenance. He was a life-long learner, collecting multiple bachelor’s and master’s degrees in a variety of subjects, devouring books and atlases through his final weeks, inspiring and cultivating a love of learning in his children and grandchildren.
His parents, William and Ruth; his sister, Mary Alice; his sisters-in-law, Catherine, Joy and Mary; and his daughter, Dr. Sarah Kemble precede him in death. His life continues to be celebrated by his brothers, Jim, John (Bernice), David (Barbara), and Peter; his wife, Joan; his children, Martha, Jennifer Gitberg (Steve), Rebecca (Adam Chern), and Joshua; son-in-law, Jerry Lund; grandchildren, Emily (Jill), Stephanie (William), Ndegwa, Dustin, Kenneth Kibuna, Katie, Cory, Carolyn, Jeremy, and Hannah; great-grandsons, Darrien, Cipriano, and Anders; and many nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and nephews.
After his death the family cared for his body at home and drove him to Natural Path Sanctuary at The Farley Center in Verona, for a green burial on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. A public memorial will be held on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, at 3 p.m. at WARNER PARK COMMUNITY RECREATION CENTER.
Donations in his name may be made to Natural Path Sanctuary (naturalpathsanctuary.org), James Reeb UU Congregation (jruuc.org), or Veterans For Peace – Clarence Kailin Chapter 25 (madisonvfp.org) .