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A Shared Commitment to Health Care

Couple’s Gift Improves Cancer Care at Big Rapids and Reed City Hospitals

Arnie and Isabel Kempton are a humble and dynamic couple who approach problem-solving from different directions but arrive at similar conclusions. One conclusion is making a difference in cancer care and prevention in Big Rapids and Reed City.

Health care services, specifically within a vibrant community hospital, are important to them personally and professionally. “My first wife had breast cancer and our son had throat cancer,” said Arnie. “We recognize the significance of having specialized services close to home. When there are so many things given to us, you need to give back. We get enjoyment out of supporting our community and our hospital.”

Professionally, Dr. Isabel Barnes-Kempton, dean for Ferris State University’s College of Health Professions for more than 15 years, was the longest-serving dean to date and set the foundation for much of the college’s curriculum in health sciences today. Arnie Kempton manages his family’s centennial farm, was an Air Force Medical Corps veteran, a long-term public servant and a Mecosta County Sheriff Deputy. They met while serving on the Mecosta County General Hospital Board (Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital). They served a combined 25 years and back-to-back terms as chair and vice chair. Both widowed, they found love again and married in 2000.

Isabel and Arnie continue to celebrate their shared commitment to health care through philanthropy and volunteer work. They generously supported the Susan P. Wheatlake Center infusion stations and conference rooms in honor of their son, Rick Kempton. Their gift of a digital mammography at Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital is in honor of Arnie’s first wife, Mary.

While Isabel has remarked, “We don’t really do anything special—it’s just a part of who we are,” their generosity of spirit and resources was formally recognized with the naming of The Kempton Center for Women.