The Corcoran Lions Club held a surprise dedication ceremony Saturday, naming their longtime meeting place Bill Kemble Hall after the longtime club member.
Kemble was noted for his lengthy spirit of volunteerism on behalf of the community. According to Curt Rowe, who made the introduction, Kemble has been a participant in the Christmas Tree Committee since 1950.
The 94-year tradition took much more manpower when Kemble came on board.
“There were no pieces of heavy equipment or chain saws then,” notedRowe. “It was hard labor cutting and loading the tree, then bringing it back to Corcoran,”
Kemble, for many years, held the assignment of rounding up the volunteers who gathered and brought home the tree.
Along with other civic duties, Kemble has also been a local Lion since 1957. He took part in the club’s annual Christmas tree sale and helped with various other fundraisers, many to benefit the eyeglass program that helps needy children and adults.
He was also well known for the Lions Club bonfires—known as the best provided by club members. They were so good, in fact, that Kemble’s conflagrations more than once scorched the side of the building.
Constantly surrounding himself with Christmas trees, it’s no wonder Kemble was involved in the formation of downtown’s Christmas Tree Park and is well versed in the role of Old St. Nick, which he has played to the delight for local adults and children alike for over 40 years.
Kemble graduated as valedictorian from St. Teresa’s High School in Fresno, but took a detour to World War II before attending college. He spent most of the war on board the USS Ashtabula, delivering fuel to other Navy ships, before returning to Fresno to attend Fresno State University.
He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in engineering and immediately went to work for the Don Wilson Pump Company in Corcoran as a salesperson. He’s been in the water business ver since, eventually starting his own company, Kemble Hydrotech.
He and wife Terry settled in Corcoran, raising their family here.
Rowe the read a proclamation to a surprised Kemble and the large crowd gathered for the ceremony, which had been advertised as a sopas fundraiser in order to lure Kemble to the clubhouse site.
The proclamation noted Kemble’s contributions and years of service to the community. It was noted that Kemble played an integral part in pushing local Lions to make their community a better place to live. The plaque then unveiled the clubhouse as Bill Kemble Hall.