Margaret ("Peggy") Kemner

May 26, 1930 - February 14, 2019

Margaret (Peggy) Kemner, born in Norristown, Pennsylvania on May 26, 1930, departed this life on Thursday February 14, 2019 at Saint Joseph’s Hospital. Peggy received her AB degree in Biology at Eastern Nazarene College in Boston Massachusetts, She then was trained for her registered nurse degree (R.N.) and Bachelor of Science, Nursing (B.S.N.) at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. While at Johns Hopkins she heard Mary Breckenridge of Frontier Nursing Service and went on to spend six months with the Frontier Nursing Service (FNS) in Hayden, Kentucky to become a Certified Nurse Midwife. She also worked with FNS for another two-and-a-half years.

Peggy and Irma Gall moved to Stinking Creek in Knox County, Kentucky to set up a program of medical and educational services called Lend-A-Hand Center (LAHC) in August, 1958. Peggy worked with the Knox County Health Department, volunteering to provide public health nursing in the 13 one and two-room schools on Stinking Creek and Flat Lick. She began her midwifery service by delivering babies in their homes. She delivered more than 500 babies including several sets of twins, breaches and premature babies.

In 1966 she was hired by KCEOC as a Health Coordinator. Part of her duties were to set up a mobile health unit that went into rural areas of the county. She also set up and taught para-health classes for Nurses Aides and later Home Health Aides. In 1968, Peggy and Irma started a pilot project for Home Health Services and medical transportation which became the first Home Health Agency in southeastern Kentucky.

Peggy was the Home Health Nurse and Coordinator with the LAHC Home Health Aides until 1965, when the program merged with the Knox County Home Health Program. She worked as a Home Health Nurse until she retired in 2002.

Peggy was also active with other LAHC programs such as 4-H, Day Camp, Sunday School, Youth Programs, Work Groups, Clinics and became well known for her cooking skills.

In 1966, Peggy delivered Melody whom she later adopted and is currently living on Stinking Creek. Between 1958 and 1990, Peggy and Irma took children in and raised them for various lengths of time at the Center, helping many children get their education. Peggy did not even know how many grandchildren she had. But the main title Peggy earned was “The Nurse”.

Survived by daughter Melody, two brothers and two sisters-in-law along with nephews and nieces.

Peggy became a nurse, mentor, mother, chief cook and boss to many youth who came to live at LAHC, to the many volunteers and to the young people who came to live and work at the Center.

Peggy and Irma started their own Sunday school program in 1960 which Peggy had maintained throughout the years. She also attended the Corbin Nazarene Church, and was the author of her book “I Am With You Always”.

On October 6, 2014 Peggy Kemner and Irma Gall were named as the recipients of the Susan Arthur Historical Preservation Award. Both were honored in recognition of their service to the people of Knox County and Southeastern Kentucky.

Peggy and Irma’s dream of LAHC, which has been the inspiration to so many, will continue to lend a hand and uplift people and their community with Charles Carnes and wife Diann as the new administrators for whom Peggy and Irma have always spoken highly of. 

Memorial Services will be held at Dewitt Baptist Church Saturday, February 23 at 11 a.m. Pastor Leonard Lester assisted by Pastor Charles Carnes will be conducting services.