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Obituary for Kemper M. Cowgill, DDS

Kemper Morris Cowgill passed away peacefully surrounded by his loving family at Hillview Healthcare Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin on December 4th, 2023 at the age of 84 years.

Kemper was born January 19th, 1939 to Robert and Virginia (Kemper) Cowgill in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was raised there and graduated from Washburn High School. He attended the University of Minnesota receiving a bachelors degree in Psychology and then went on to dental school graduating in 1966 with honors. All during his college years he worked as an orderly at Fairview Riverside Hospital. While in dental school, he met the love of his life, Nancy Wolcott, on a skiing trip in Michigan. Because she was also a student at the University of Minnesota, they were able to continue their relationship and were eventually united in marriage March 21st, 1966.

After graduation from dental school, he voluntarily enlisted in the Army. He was a Captain in the Fifth Army Dental Corps during the Vietnam era. He was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri where tens of thousands of troops were processed. After discharge from the Army, it was Dr. Clarence B. Kurz that brought them to Caledonia, Minnesota in 1968. A few years later, Dr. Mark S. Zard joined the practice. They were such good friends and business partners. They even lived across the street and next door to each other. The joke was, “Why didn’t they just put a dental chair in the middle of Marshall Street?”. They enjoyed many golf outings and pheasant hunting trips together and often included many of their other dental buddies.

Kemper truly loved dentistry. He was the third generation dentist in his family and his son, Terry, was the fourth generation. It was not unusual for Kemper to be called down to the dental office in the middle of the night, weekends and holidays. He served patients in offices located in Caledonia and Mabel Minnesota as well as Waukon, Iowa. After 40 years in dentistry he retired in 2008.

Kemper also loved small town life and proudly served on Immanuel Lutheran Church Council, DAC (Developmental Achievement Center) Board, Caledonia’s first zoning commission, Caledonia Hospital Board, Caledonia Economic Development Board, and Merchant’s Bank Board. He was also a member of the Red Baron Flyers, Ma Cal Grove Country Club, American Dental Association, Minnesota Dental Association, and American Legion Post 191, particularly enjoying his time serving on Bingo nights. He was the Chairman of Immanuel Lutheran Church pipe organ committee to obtain the Van Daalen Pipe Organ which was dedicated December 1st, 1985.

Kemper will be remembered as a very loving husband and wonderful father. He was also a generous and cheerful man not only to his family but also to friends and patients alike. He had a playful nature that brought joy to all. His infectious smile, warmth, and abundant love seemed to be endless and left a lasting impression on those around him. He had a deep compassion for animals and his pets over the years, dogs; Ollie, Oreo, Ernie, and Buddy and cats; Boomer, Bailey, Tucker and Gizmo. We know he is giving them treats and cuddles up in heaven.

Some of Kemper’s favorite sayings that you may recognize: “Do what you feel in your heart is right.”, “I’m an old cowpie but I ain’t quite dry.”, “Cowpie’s the name, teeth’s the game.”, and “Don’t forget to brush and floss”. When giving a gift he would always say jokingly, “Nothing but the best” and “I spared no expense”.

Kemper is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Nancy; son, Terry (Shelly) Cowgill; daughter, Tracy (Jeff) Pitz; beloved grandchildren, Jack, Christina, and Caitlyn Pitz and Grace, Jonah, and Sophie Cowgill; beloved great granddaughter, Isabella; sister-in-law, Sherri Cowgill; and niece, Jennifer (Dan) Jakubic. He was preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Virginia Cowgill; parents-in-law, Art and Helene Wolcott; brother, James Cowgill; and infant son, Bryan.

The family wants to thank all of the wonderful staff at Hillview Healthcare Center that has cared for Kemper over the last 5 years. We would also like to thank Pastor Meyer, Mayo Clinic, Fredrickson Funeral Home, and dear friends that visited Kemper at Hillview Healthcare Center. Visitation to be held at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sunday, December 10th from 2pm-5pm. Church address is 419 East Grove Street, Caledonia, MN. A funeral service will be held privately for the family. Interment will be at Evergreen Cemetery in Caledonia, MN.

In lieu of flowers, the family would prefer donations to Immanuel Lutheran Church, Caledonia Streetscapes, Brownsville Fire and Rescue, Alzheimers Association or a charity of your choice.