Philanthropist David Kampe, seen here on a tour of the new hospital tower named in his honour, died on the evening of May 8. (File photo)

City mourns passing of philanthropist

David E. Kampe was surrounded by his loved ones

Penticton is mourning the loss of one of its greatest philanthropists.

David E. Kampe, a major sponsor of the new hospital tower named in his honour, died on the evening of May 8, according to a release issued by the Kampe family and Peters Brothers Construction Ltd.

“Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with David Kampe, we have lost a dear friend and mentor,” said company representatives in the release. “In 1981 Dave started building the team that owns and operates the company today. We will honour his memory by continuing the work he loved so much.”

The message from the family says Kampe was surrounded by his loved ones and had a peaceful passing.

“His legacy of generosity and kindness has impacted many in profound ways,” reads their statement. “We ask you to find ways to be an extension of this kindness today to each other while you are out in the community. We thank the many diligent doctors and caregivers for their care for the last few years.”

Joe Cuzzacrea, who took over operations of Peter Bros after Kampe’s retirement, said it is a hard day for the staff but they find comfort in their fond memories of him over the years.

“He and I have been partners for the last 20 years, so it’s a difficult time,” said Cuzzacrea. “We’re obviously successful, so he figured why not give back to the community? He grew up in Summerland and I grew up in Penticton. Dave had some wonderful stories so we’re remembering those.”

According to Carey Bornn with the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation, his experiences meeting and working with Kampe were always pleasant and he will remember the joy he brought to the hospital staff with each visit. He said in later years, Kampe frequented the hospital for his own health care needs, which allowed staff to form lasting relationships with him.

The thing about David that not everyone knows is that he often would bring apples in for staff when he came for appointments. He was very generous, so he’d carry in a box of apples on his wheelchair to share. It was nice to see that spirit of giving, not just financially to the hospital but just to all the staff; he brought smiles to a lot of peoples’ faces,” said Bornn. “I started with the foundation in September 2016. At that time, he had given a [parking] lot in 2011 for staff parking and then he had given $2 million to the (expansion) campaign, and just three months before had helped with a $3-million donation for purchasing an MRI, so that was the start of our relationship.”

Kampe’s generosity extended far beyond the many donations supporting the hospital. For several years, he ensured youth could attend Vees hockey games, paying for all children’s admissions.

“When you’re in hockey, you move around a lot and in different cities, and one of the things when I came to Penticton and in the time that I’ve been here, it’s quite shocking to see a man like Dave and what he gave back to the community. He was pretty impressive, he really cared about the entire city,” said Vees head coach Fred Harbinson, who added Kampe had long been involved with supporting the Vees through Peter Bros but stepped up his efforts about five years ago.

“It was his vision to allow the local kids into our games for free. He was a big gamechanger for the families here in Penticton because he made (Vees games) a family night and more affordable for our organization,” said Harbinson. “He came to the games all of the time, so he clearly liked the game of hockey and cared for it, but I think that deep down his motivation was bigger than the game itself.

“He just cared about the City of Penticton and the people that were involved in it, and he just had a greater vision.

Kampe was also a major donor to the Penticton Peach Festival, helping to keep it one of the largest free family festivals in Canada, sponsoring headlining performers, the Grand Parade and more. Don Kendall, festival president, said Kampe’s philanthropy was so far-reaching there were many projects he undertook anonymously in order to give back any way he could, regardless of the recognition.

“It’s safe to say that nobody has ever done more for Penticton than he did. He was the most community-minded person I ever met. Whether it was for the hospital, the Vees or Peach Festival, he took everything to the next level with his support,” said Kendall. “In regards to Peach Festival, it has turned into the largest free festival in Canada and that wouldn’t have happened without his support. He made it possible for Peach Fest to go to the next level, and I don’t think there’s anybody in the community that wasn’t touched by his generosity in some way.”

Penticton MLA Dan Ashton, a friend of Kampe’s, echoed Harbinson’s sentiments that Kampe did a lot behind the scenes that he did not take credit for.

“Many of these were kept privately, done anonymously,” said Ashton explaining that the community also benefitted from the jobs created by Peter Bros. “He was an incredibly quiet individual and an unbelievably hard worker. He built a company that employs many, many people; hundreds and hundreds.”

Ashton also exhorted the community to follow Kampe’s last request and continue his legacy of extending kindness.

The family said there are no words to express the sadness of Kampe’s passing. They will announce the time and dates of a memorial service to honour him soon.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

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