Kemper Kent Hyers, 88, died December 27, 2017, at his home in Manakin-Sabot, Virginia, surrounded by his family. Born July 8, 1929 in Charleston, S.C., he was the son of the late Carlotta Johnson Hyers and Samuel Kent Hyers. In 1946, he graduated from Porter Military Academy in Charleston and went on to attend The Citadel. While at The Citadel, he was a battalion sergeant major and a member of the prestigious Summerall Guard. He transferred to the University of South Carolina for his final year of college where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics in 1952. Active in student affairs, he served as vice president of the student body and was a member of Kappa Alpha fraternity. Following graduation, he entered the University of South Carolina Law School on an NROTC scholarship and received his Bachelor of Law degree in 1956. While in law school, he was a member of the S.C. Law Review and Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity. He was then commissioned in the United States Navy and served aboard the USS Salem as the ship’s legal officer. The Salem is now the only heavy cruiser of the World War II Era still in existence as it serves as a museum ship in Quincy, Mass. Following active service, Kemper continued his military service with the U. S. Navy Reserve, retiring as Commander.
Beginning in 1956, Kemper had a long and distinguished career with the rail industry. Initially he served as a claim agent with the former Seaboard Air Line Railroad in Charleston. He took on increasing responsibilities in the Law Department in the areas of tort litigation and corporate finance of the successor company, Seaboard Coast Line Railroad, serving as Assistant General Solicitor from 1975-1980. He then moved into government affairs for the company eventually serving as Vice President of Government Relations for CSX from 1983-1986 and Regional Vice President for CSX Transportation, Inc., from 1986-1987.
Kemper retired from CSX and immediately began a new career with the law firm of McGuireWoods as of Counsel. He practiced law with McGuireWoods for 12 years. Following his retirement, he began the final chapter of his career as Legislative Counsel to the Virginia Association of Chain Drug Stores. He represented the interests of the industry in the Virginia General Assembly for 15 years before retiring completely at age 85. In 2014, he was honored by the Virginia Bar Association for his 50 years of membership in the Virginia Bar.
Kemper had many passions: flying, sailing, hunting, shooting and opera among them. He was a private pilot for decades. As a young man, his first airplane was a Taylorcraft ‘Tail-Dragger’. He also enjoyed flying various Cessna airplanes through the years. One of his favorite flying adventures was a trip across the United States with a law partner in a Cessna 172. His love of flying attracted him to the Civil Air Patrol, an auxiliary of the United States Air Force. As Colonel, he served as Commander of the South Carolina Wing. Eventually, he was selected as Chief of Staff to the National Commander of the CAP, the number three position within the national organization. During his tenure, he was the recipient of many awards for his accomplishments and dedication to the ideals of the CAP.
During his later years, Kemper became an active board member of Virginia Opera. Beginning in 2007, he was recruited to the Statewide Board of Virginia Opera, serving on the Executive Committee in 2009-2010. He was President of the Central Virginia Board of Governors from 2011-2014. From 2009 up to the present time, he served on the Finance Committee, as well as other board committees.
As a native Charlestonian, Kemper loved the water and his ‘river house’ in Deltaville on the Chesapeake Bay where he sailed the ‘Miss Courts’, ‘Kismet’ and ‘Tranquility’. He was known by all for his unfailing optimism, infectious laugh and sense of fun. He was a happy man, young at heart and loved people. As a Son of the South, he was riveting storyteller. Above all, he adored his family and treasured his friends.
He is survived by his wife of 26 years, Courtney George Hyers; and by his children and grandchildren from a previous marriage: son, Kemper Hyers and spouse, Paolo Gentile-Polese and their children, Matthew and Daniela of Waccabuc, N.Y.; Martin Hyers and wife, Andrea Gentl and their children, Tallula and Sam of New York City; and son, Campbell Hyers and his wife, Allison of New York City. Also surviving him are his brother-in-law, Theodore C. George of Atlanta, Ga.; sister-in-law, Beverly C. George and her daughter, Courtney C. George of Gainesville, Fla.; and his cousins, Thomas and Betsy Johnson and their son, Thomas of Charleston, S.C.; Hammond and Kate Johnson and their sons, Christopher and Chase of Charleston, S.C.; Jocelyn Estep and daughter, Sally Drennon and husband, Jerry and their daughter, Allison all of Gastonia, N.C.; Donnie and Susan Johnson of Goose Creek, S.C.; and Annie Laurie Johnson Hubbard of Hardeeville, S.C.
A memorial service will be held 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, January 3, 2018, at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 12291 River Road, Richmond, Va. 23238. Burial will take place at Old St. Andrew’s Parish Church in Charleston, S.C. at a graveside service on Saturday, January 6, 2018. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made in his memory to Old St. Andrew’s Parish Church, 2604 Ashley River Road, Charleston, S.C. 29414 or Virginia Opera, P. O. Box 784, Richmond, Va. 23218.

Posted in: Gainesville Sun

Posted on: 2018-01-09

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