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John Henry Lemmer, Sr

Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas, USA
Death 13 Nov 2012 (aged 89)
Washington County, Oregon, USA
Burial Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, USA
Memorial ID 100830911 · View Source
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John Henry Lemmer Sr. died of causes related to age at The Springs at Tanasbourne on Nov. 13, 2012.

John was born to John Henry Lemmer and Martha Kober on March 6, 1923 in Little Rock, Ark. Both parents had separately emigrated from Germany in the early 1900s, and they married in 1907. John's father died when he was 11 years old and, after that, John became an active participant in the maintenance of his family that consisted of his sister, Gertrude, his mother and him. Although slight in stature, his 1940 high school yearbook quote - "inches do not make the man" - reflected his positive attitude and drive. He proved this to be true during the following 72 years of his life. John attended the University of Arkansas but, in 1943, college was interrupted by military service. He served with the 102nd Infantry Division U.S. Army Engineers in France and Germany. He received the Bronze Star, as described in the declaration, for: "acting as a mine detector operator working ahead of advanced infantry under hostile enemy artillery and small arms fire … The courage, coolness and skill displayed by Private Lemmer reflect great credit upon himself and the military service." He rose to the rank of Sergeant. Discharged from the Army in February 1946, John returned to college at the University of Missouri, from which he graduated in 1948 with a degree in Business Administration (Marketing and Advertising). While at Missouri, he met his future wife, Kathleen "Kay" Blankenship. They married on Feb. 19, 1949 and had two sons, John Jr. and Gary. Kathleen graduated with a degree in journalism in 1949. She preceded him in death in 2002. John's entire working career was with Wm. Volker & Company, a home furnishings, flooring and window covering wholesale company that was then based in Kansas City, Mo. The company had been founded in 1882 by Mr. Volker, who was a major silent philanthropist and who was eventually "outed" regarding his generosity in the book "Mr. Anonymous." It was subsequently learned that John and Kay, years later, continued the practice by providing anonymous college scholarships to deserving students. John began his business career as a sales trainee for Wm. Volker & Co., with his first assignment being San Antonio, Texas, in 1949. He became Marketing Manager for the Furniture Division in 1958 and General Merchandising Manager in 1959, Executive Vice President for Sales and Merchandising in 1962, Vice President in 1967 and finally, President of the company, then headquartered in Burlingame, Calif., in 1973. Four years after John became President, a major trade magazine described the Wm. Volker Co to be the "world's largest distributor of home interior furnishing products." John retired from Wm. Volker as President in 1988. His devotion to the employees and the customers of the company were well recognized at the time of his retirement. In his younger days, John was active in the San Antonio men's chorus ("The Chordsmen") that traveled extensively putting on popular barbershop harmony shows. Later in life, John was active in the Episcopal Church. He served on the vestry at St. Matthew's Church in San Mateo, Calif. In 1984 John and Kathleen worked as Volunteers In Mission in the service of the Episcopal Church regarding development of properties for the Church of the Province of Kenya, Africa. He was active in fundraising for The Bishop's Ranch. He was on the Board of Directors for the Northern California March of Dimes Campaign. John's life was full of accomplishments, and he left behind a legacy of service, a strong work ethic and love of family. In particular, his sons, nephew, Leslie, and grandchildren benefited from his example and mentoring. His love for the outdoors, hiking and fishing rubbed off onto his boys. He was a devoted husband who provided care and tireless companionship to Kay during her extended illness. His quick smile and charming attitude persisted even after his ability to communicate in other ways became challenged. John's was a life well lived with lots of happy memories and favorable influences on those he has left behind.

John is survived by his sons, John (Elaine) of Portland and Gary (Baholi) of Morondova, Madagascar; and grandchildren, Emily, Elizabeth Walter (Adam) and John III; and nephew, Leslie ONeil (Sandra) of San Diego.

A memorial service will be held Monday, Nov. 19, 2012 at the Chapel of the Good Samaritan, Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital at 11 a.m.

Published in The Oregonian
on November 17, 2012

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  • Created by: Vita Brevis
  • Added: 17 Nov 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 100830911
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John Henry Lemmer, Sr (6 Mar 1923–13 Nov 2012), Find A Grave Memorial no. 100830911, citing Willamette National Cemetery, Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, USA ; Maintained by Vita Brevis (contributor 47252590) .