robert l. kemp, bus ad '54
Although Bob’s parents were originally from Milwaukee—Bob was born there—they had moved to New Jersey to raise their family. After Bob graduated from high school a year early, his mother wanted to move back to Milwaukee. At a crucial time in a young person’s life, Bob was faced with having to leave the only home he had known.
Back in Milwaukee, he decided to take a job first and think about starting college later, working as an unskilled laborer making one dollar an hour. His closest circle were coworkers—twice his age with kids of their own. “I lived with my parents in Whitefish Bay,” says Bob, “and I didn’t know anyone except people at work.”
A year later, Bob applied to Marquette and was accepted. One by one, the friends he made his first two years were getting drafted into the Korean War. “Another friend knew someone in Delta Sigma Pi (business professional fraternity),” says Bob. “After going to a fraternity ‘smoker,’ we joined. All of a sudden, I knew 110 new people.”
Bob credits Delta Sigma Pi with doing a lot for his self-confidence. By his senior year, he was elected its president. “It was a big boost psychologically,” he says.
Bob, who “liked anything to do with numbers,” knew from a young age that he wanted to get into the investment business. His first step to that end was majoring in finance. The second was a chance meeting with Finance Professor Francis J. Calkins.
“Dr. Calkins interested me in the investment business,” says Bob. “My senior year, he knew about a part-time job in the field, and said I should apply. I did, got the job, and worked while going to school. It was the beginning of what would be a 50-year career.”
That career has included 15 years as a money manager in Milwaukee, followed by an opportunity to help run a national investment firm headquartered in Boston. By then married with young children, Bob was elected and served as president of Loomis, Sayles & Co. for 12 years. Today he is president of Capital Growth Management, where he has worked for the past 17 years.
Bob’s passions include “family and the investment business.” And water—he swims, enjoys deep-sea fishing and sails small boats. He also skis and plays tennis. “No golf,” he says.
He lives in Concord, Mass., with his wife Mary. They have five daughters; all but one live near by. Bob and Mary are members of Holy Family Parish in Concord.
Several years after graduating from Marquette, Bob met then-president Rev. John P. Raynor, S.J., who was in New England for a fund-raising event. “I had lost touch with the university,” he says, “But after meeting Father Raynor, I was right back in it.”
Since then, Bob has been involved in a number of university fund-raising campaigns; he also served as a member of the Marquette University Board of Trustees for 11 years and was chairman of its finance committee. In 1990, the Marquette University Alumni Association named him the College of Business Administration “Alumnus of the Year.” He and his wife established The Robert L. and Mary Kemp Scholarship, awarded to outstanding undergraduate business students at Marquette.