Peter Michael Kempel

Peter died August 11, 2014, at home with his wife Kathy by his side. Peter was born in Detroit March 5, 1943 to Edward and Helen Kempel. He was currently of DeWitt, MI.

He is survived by his wife Kathy, his aunt Mary Lee Moon and cousin Margaret Demaggio.

Growing up in the Detroit area, he started his school years going to Christ the King School. He went to high school at Salesian High School run by the Oblates of St. Francis DeSales and then went on to receive a degree in philosophy and political science at the University of Detroit. While at U of D he was very active in theatre and was a member of the Players where he met his wife Kathy and made many good and lasting friendships.

He continued his education completing a degree in library science at U of M and then a degree in law at the University of Detroit Law School.

Peter and Kathy married December 31, 1971 and moved to Lansing, Michigan where he worked for the Michigan Court of Appeals as a research attorney. In 1972 he started his long career of 40 years as a professor at Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

During their 42 years together Peter and Kathy made many good and true friends. They also shared a love of animals giving a home to dogs, cats, a grouchy parrot and a friendly turtle. From the early ‘90s to the end of his life Peter and Kathy shared their love of horses and riding with a close community of fellow horse lovers at Fox Brush Farm in DeWitt. Kathy is now sure that he is trail riding his beloved mare Dicey Riley.

The Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, August 21, 2014, at St. Therese of Lisieux Parish, 102 W. Randolph, Lansing, MI. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the Mass at the church on Thursday. In lieu of flowers donations may be made in Peter’s name to the American Cancer Society, in hopes that research will someday find a treatment for pancreatic cancer, the Capital Area Humane Society, the Ingham County Animal Shelter, Beekman Therapeutic Riding Center or the charity of your choice. Online condolences may be left for the family at

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14 Messages to “Peter Michael Kempel

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Cheryl and Lloyd Naylor
August 12, 2014 at 6:21 pm

Our deep sympathy and love go out to my sister Kathy. Peter was a very loving and caring person. Never hesitating to help someone in need. I remember Peter’s humor and his singing. And his wonderful patience when he tried to teach me to drive a stick shift, quickly suggesting that I get an automatic. Peter will truly be remembered

Jim Cox
August 12, 2014 at 6:46 pm

Hi Kathy, I’m very sorry to hear of the death of Peter. He always was a very kind and principled man. I remember him as showing interest and respect for other people (including me) and having a very witty sense of humor. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Cheryl, and Eve Marie for this tremendous loss to your family.

Kathy and Jeff Cox
August 13, 2014 at 8:25 am

Dear Kathy,
We are saddened by your loss of Peter, he was a good man and was so willing to help people out, and truly cared. He was even willing to drive from Lansing to the Detroit area to solve a legal problem for my widowed mother whom he never met. That’s just the kind of person he was, and we won’t forget his good deeds. We look forward to a time when we will see him again happy and healthy doing what he loves.
Kathy and Jeff Cox

Aletha Honsowitz
August 13, 2014 at 5:53 pm


I’m so sorry to hear about Peter. We had a lot of good times when he was Director of the Library. I know he is greatly missed by many of the faculty and staff. Many accolades to Peter and how much faculty appreciated him welcoming them as new faculty to Cooley Law school have been floating around the Faculty/Staff email lists.

He will be greatly missed by many! I’m thankful that I had a chance to know him (and you 🙂

Lawrence P. Nolan - Chairman of the Board of Directors at Thomas M. Cooley Law School
August 14, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Dear Kathy,

I am deeply saddened with the notice of Peter’s death. Peter was one of the first professors I had when I enrolled in the first class (Cooley Class) at Cooley Law School. The entire Cooley family has lost one of our finest. Peter will always be remembered as a caring, loving, and wonderful professor of law with a great sense of humor. His loss cannot be measured.

Our thoughts are prayers are with you at this most difficult time.

With Deepest Sympathy,
Lawrence P. Nolan
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Thomas M. Cooley Law School

Nikki Correll Petrin
August 15, 2014 at 8:24 pm

I was deeply saddened by the news of Peter’s passing. You and Peter will always be one of my favorite memories of my time at FBF. I appreciate all of his kindness, smiles and humor. He was truly a giving person; he would give you the shirt off his back or the horse underneath him. He was always kind and had great to talk to if you were upset. I am truly sorry for your loss but am sure that he is somewhere riding Dicey and singing.

Mary clausen
August 17, 2014 at 10:47 am

So sorry about Peter’s passing. It was is a privilege to know both of you. My sincere sympathy to you.

Mary Rita Danaher Allen
August 18, 2014 at 11:18 am

Dear Kathy, Although I never met you, I was a classmate of Peter at Christ the King school in Detroit all those many years ago. I remember him as the classmate that the sisters always loved and I m sure that was because he always said he was going to become a priest and missionary and he was a fine student. Strange the things you remember about a person whose life crossed yours decades ago before diverging for most of a lifetime. A couple of years ago I came across Peter s name and I sent a message and indeed he had attended Christ the king we compared life s journeys to that point. Yesterday I picked up the paper to read of his passing. I offer my condolences to you. It is sad to read of the passing of another classmate of that class of many years ago. May God surround you with His love and hugs. Mary Danaher Allen retired Associate Supt. for Catholic Schools/ Archdiocese of Detroit, Principal, and Teacher

Harold Thrasher
August 18, 2014 at 10:10 pm

My condolences. Even after more than 40 years, Peter’s personality and wit are still present in my memories. I once spent a fair amount of time with Peter – that is until you, Kathy, came along. After that I spent far less time with him but only because you were so perfect for him.
Jerri passed away a year and a half ago after 42 years of our being together. I still find myself turning to tell her some bit of news or happening in the neighbourhood. Of course she isn’t available to provide a direct comment, but it does keep her firmly in my heart. I wish – and I know – you will be blessed with the same experience. Your many years together will surely count towards the continuance of the relationship even if under different circumstances.
Please be well and best wishes to your household creatures. I’m certain Peter will be greatly missed by them as well.

Don LeDuc
August 19, 2014 at 8:17 am

Peter was a Cooley pioneer, who took our library from nothing to one of the best in legal education. He came to Cooley when it was it was unaccredited and in its formative period, helping the School to become accredited and shaping its future. Over his forty years, he became a symbol of professional responsibility, professionalism, and civility. I join his many Cooley colleagues who have shared their genuine fondness and appreciation for Peter with one another. Peter made our School and each of us better. As so many have said, he will be greatly missed. On behalf of Cooley’s faculty, staff, and students, I offer our condolences to Kathy.

Colleen Tvorik
August 19, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Dear Kathy – I am so sorry to hear that Peter has passed away. I’ve always thought of you both as one of my surrogate sets of parents that kept me on the straight and narrow… I have such fond memories of Peter – he always had a twinkle in his eye and a smile to light up the room. I’m truly sorry for your loss – please know I’m thinking of you.

Benita Duncan
August 19, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Dear Kathy,

Cisco, the girls and I send our heartfelt condolence. You and Peter have a warm place in my heart and I want you to know how truly sorry I am for your loss. We are praying God will keep you and see you through this difficult time.

Love, Cisco, Benita, Madison and Kennedy

Susan Richard
August 21, 2014 at 10:16 am

Dear Kathy,

I am sad for your loss and my heart goes out to you. Your Husband sounded like an amazing and wonderful man. May years of wonderful memories bring you peace.


Jim Sampson
April 12, 2016 at 1:04 pm

Dear Kathy,

Have so many remarkable memories of Peter at the Players, and the long philosophical musings in the Green Room. Lost track after U of D, but over the years, would hear his laughter and Chestertonian wit from out of the sky. All the best to you.

Jim Sampson
Players 1963-67


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