biographical data

Kemper Durand biography: 13 things about Memphis, Tennessee lawyer


Kemper Bartlett Durand was born in Wisconsin, United States to Loyal Durand Jr. and Dorthey Durand. Kemper has three older brothers namely Loyal Jud “Randy” Durand, Phillip Durand and Lee Durand.

Kemper was a lawyer, an art photographer, a theatre and jazz drummer, a mountaineer and a scholar with a diverse range of interests and expertise. His photography was shown at Jay Etkin Gallery in Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee, USA.

A percussionist with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, Kemper often worked with theater groups in Knoxville, Knox County, Tennessee as a jazz drummer. Here are 13 more things about him:

  1. He attended Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, USA where he was a track star and a member of the rowing crew. He also went to Davenport University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. 
  2. He was employed by Lewis Thomas Law Firm, which is formerly called Thomason, Hendrix, Harvey Johnson & Mitchell, PLLC. He became an assistant U.S. attorney in Memphis. Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s office as an assistant prosecutor, he spent two years as a law clerk in federal court.
  3. He was 1 year older than his wife Lillian F. Durand.
  4. In 1963, he received his Juris Doctor from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
  5. In 1968, Lillian gave birth to their son Kemper Bartlett Durand Jr.
  6. On October 14, 1970, his father died in Knoxville at the age of 68.
  7. In 1972, Lillian gave birth to their son Jennings Durand.
  8. On the evening of May 24, 2000, he attended a party on Beale Street in Memphis.
  9. At around 2:00 a.m. on May 25, 2000, he was walking to his car when Cleotha Abston, then 16, robbed him at gunpoint and forced him into the trunk of a 1992 Mercedes-Benz, drove him around for several hours, picked up two accomplices, Marquette Cobbins, then 17, and another boy, 12, forced him into an automated teller machine and demanded he draw out cash. When a uniformed Memphis Housing Authority officer entered, he yelled that he had been kidnapped and his kidnappers ran away. After the three kidnappers were arrested, argued for leniency for Cobbins and the 12-year-old boy.
  10. His grandchildren Declan Durand and Bennett Durand were born in 1999 and 2000, respectively.
  11. On October 1, 2001, Abston pled guilty to aggravated kidnapping and received 20 years in prison. Before this, he wrote a letter to then Shelby County district attorney Bill Gibbons urging probation for Cobbins but the proposal was turned down. Cobbins pled guilty to aiding a kidnapping and was sentenced to 7 years and 6 months.
  12. His grandchildren Anya Durand, Monroe Durand, Kennedy Durand and Greta Durand were born in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008, respectively.
  13. On February 2, 2013, he died at the age of 73 after recovering from the flu and bronchitis. He donated his body to the Genesis Donor Program for the benefit of medical research. 

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