By Joe Fries
Special to OsoyoosToday
As well-known as he became for his largesse, it seems the majority of Penticton philanthropist David Kampe’s charitable acts were done far from the public eye.
“I would say that 75% of what he did, most people don’t know anything about it,” said Mayor John Vassilaki.
“We know about the hospital because there were so many others involved in it and they put it out there, but he didn’t want that. He was a very private person.”
Mr. Kampe, 77, passed away peacefully Wednesday night, surrounded by loved ones, after a long battle with health problems.
In 1981, he began building the team that owns and operates Peters Bros. Construction, which grew into a paving company with upwards of 200 employees who work all over B.C.
But he’s best known for the philanthropy in his later years that saw him donate in the range of $8 million to Penticton Regional Hospital, where the newly opened patient care tower bears his name.
“His legacy of generosity and kindness has impacted many in profound ways,” Mr. Kampe’s family said in a statement Thursday.
“We ask you to find ways to be an extension of this kindness today to each other while you are out in the community.”
The statement thanks Mr. Kampe’s doctors and caregivers, and promises details of a memorial service soon.
Mr. Kampe was described as a “dear friend and mentor” in a separate statement signed by Peters Bros. president and owner Joe Cuzzocrea and general manager of operations and owner Rick Selles.
“We will honour his memory by continuing the work he loved so much,” the statement adds.
He built a strong succession plan for the company that allowed him in recent years to shift his focus to philanthropy.
“There’s probably no one in the city who hasn’t been touched by his generosity,” said Don Kendall, president of the Penticton Peach Festival, at which the main-stage entertainment and the grand parade are sponsored by Peters Bros.
“Because of him, over the last many years it has grown to become the largest free festival in Canada,” said Kendall.
“But (Mr. Kampe’s charity) goes way beyond Peachfest and beyond the hospital even.”
Some of his other notable gifts include having Peters Bros. cover the price of admission for every child attending a Penticton Vees game, and last year giving to the $195,000 Penticton Secondary Schools Bursary and Scholarship Foundation that was later disbursed to 45 students.
But, again, those charitable acts are just the tip of the iceberg, said Penticton MLA Dan Ashton.
“Most of these things he just liked to keep it to himself. That’s just how he was. He didn’t like to be front and centre all the time,” said Mr. Ashton.
Mr. Kampe came from humble beginnings in the Summerland area and grew Peters Bros. into the company it became through hard work, smarts and business acumen, said Ashton.
He never married or had children, but leaves behind nieces and nephews and employees who were like family to him.
Perhaps his crowning achievement, though, are his contributions to PRH, which gave Penticton one of the most advanced hospitals in all of B.C. when it welcomed its first patients April 29.
“To see the hospital opened was an incredibly proud day for Mr. Kampe,” said Ashton.
Vassilaki said the city will be investigating some sort of permanent tribute to Mr. Kampe.
“It’s on the radar for us and we’ll look into it very, very seriously and see what we can come up with,” said the mayor.
“We lost a good person in the community and he’ll be missed by many, including me.”