To our Church family, Camp family, Alumni and Friends,
Pat Gempel and Kim Evans would like to thank you for your prayers and support during the sudden loss of Robert Gempel, Pat’s husband and Kim’s dad.
Ata time when the future of camp seemed uncertain, HOPE worldwide took it under its wing and created a program called “Hope for Kids.” As the CEO of HOPE worldwide in 2006, Robert Gempel helped establish Hope for Kids as a separate 501c3 non-profit organization. Hope for Kids and HOPE worldwide have always been powerful partners, bringing unity to the church and changing the lives of all of those that participate.
Robert Gempel’s vision and leadership inspired Hope for Kids to grow from a small camp serving the youth of a few churches into a dynamic multi-generational organization that has helped people of all ages, races and backgrounds from all corners of the globe to live and serve each other as Jesus did.
In honor of Robert Gempel’s love for God, vision to build family and desire to help others, we would like to begin the Hope for Kids Robert Gempel Legacy Fund. The initial goal of the fund will be to meet the immediate needs for sustainability. Additionally Hope for Kids will establish an endowment that will help the camp to continue the mission of being a faith-fueled camp that empowers lives through mentoring for generations to come.
If you wish to pay tribute to Robert Gempel, please consider making a gift to the Hope for Kids Robert Gempel Legacy Fund:
Please keep us, in your prayers.
Pat Gempel and Kim Evans
Please join us for a Celebration of Life in Philadelphia or Boston:
September 1st: 2 PM to 4 PM
Temple Performing Arts Center
1837 North Broad Street
September 7th: 11 AM to 1 PM
Boston Church of Christ
75 Pleasant Street
In 2002, J. Brian Craig performed a song that, for a time became the anthem of HOPE worldwide. “People Helping People” is described in a happy lyric and rhythmic score the story of spreading hope by helping others. The origins of this song and its sentiments were influenced by many who were serving the world’s poor through HOPE worldwide, but none more than Bob and Pat Gempel, the faith-based charity’s founders. Losing Bob on earth is painful to all who had and have the privilege of living out his legacy of helping other people everywhere, yet his treasure was always in heaven, and we rejoice that he has reached his eternal destination.
A charity lawyer’s vantage point provides a unique chance to observe the charity’s leader. The inner intentions and integrity of leadership are laid bare on a daily basis, and for this reason, I am in awe of Bob Gempel. With Pat, who he affectionately called “Patsy,” Bob charted a course for the church to experience the serving heart of Jesus and to relieve the suffering of literally millions. Along the way, there were challenges, but Bob’s vision of helping others was a constant driving force for good.
For Bob, there was a right way and a wrong way, and he always chose the right. He mastered the inner workings of HOPE worldwide so that its many inspiring programs could stand on a firm footing. As a result, the desire to serve the poor and needy by ICOC churches and their members spread like wildfire around the world. Local congregations in more than 80 countries chose to align their service to others under the banner of HOPE worldwide. Sometimes, the programs were small, like providing school supplies to a child in need, but many times, they were vast and changed the lives of many. There are schools, orphanages, and community programs across the whole of India. The challenge of HIV/AIDS was faced head-on on the continent of Africa. Free medical care has been provided to millions in the kingdom of Cambodia. Volunteerism by disciples of Jesus to address childhood immunization and many other public health issues is nationally recognized in many cities in the United States and Canada. The heartfelt response by ICOC churches to disasters around the world has been epic. This description of actionable love and caring repeats itself across the globe because of the clear, decisive, and spirit-inspired leadership provided by Bob Gempel and the ever-present love of his life, Pat.
Bob had a calm and steady hand at the helm of HOPE worldwide, and there are many stories that others will tell to illustrate the point. However, I will never forget the beginning of one summer when I helped Bob unbox a brand-new Honda lawnmower at Bustin’s Island. We assembled the mower, and I was eager to hear the purr of the new engine, but before adding any gas, Bob began to disassemble the engine. He pulled the filter and exposed the carburetor, removed the spark plug, and reviewed the pull-start mechanism. When I asked why, Bob explained that he wanted to understand how the engine was put together so that in the fall, he could adequately winterize it against the harsh Maine winters. I realized that on’s principled leadership was grounded on first observing God’s perfect plan for the poor, then through reverse engineering trying to understand all the steps that would be needed to protect God’s plan for the many years that would follow. When Bob handed over the helm of HOPE worldwide in 2008, he left a lasting legacy of hope that continues. As the song says, “People helping people that’s the way things ought to be.”
Thank you, Bob.
Randy Jordan, a friend, and fellow CEO of HOPE worldwide
On Tuesday, August 13th, 2019, Robert Gempel, loving husband and father of three, passed peacefully at the age of 77.
Robert (Bob) was born on September 29th, 1942 in Pittsburgh, PA to Elmer and Geraldine Gempel. He graduated as president of his senior class from Shaler High School in 1959. He went on to Thiel College where he studied physics and again graduated as president of the class of 1963. After gaining some work experience, he enrolled in a master’s in Physics program at Wayne State University (WSU).
He met the love of his life at WSU, Patricia (Pat) Arthur. They were married on March 12th, 1971. He graduated in 1972. Not only did he become a husband in 1971, but father to three: Douglas, Kimberly, and Roxanne. After a brief stint with General Electric Bob was accepted into a Master of Science program at Harvard University’s School of Public Health, graduating in 1974.
Bob worked in environmental science at Harvard School of Public Health and Duracelluntil 1981 when he and Pat founded International Health Services (IHS), a medical consulting company, which took them all over the world. 1989 saw the sale of IHS and Bob entered the realm of charitable endeavors.
Bob and Pat founded HOPE worldwide, a four-star non-profit organization, in 1991. HOPE worldwide was initially based in Wayne, PA, and under his leadership served more than a million people in over 60 nations. The scope of impact was indeed worldwide: homes were built for leprosy patients in India, AIDS orphanage was constructed in Africa, a free hospital was established in Cambodia. In the United States, HOPE worldwide was a key player in increasing immunization rates in the 1990s through door-to-door advocacy, and volunteer work was accomplished in most of the major US cities. In Philadelphia, HOPE worldwide’s strongest partners are the Greater Philadelphia Church of Christ and One Day At a Time(ODAAT) – and together have been actively serving the North Philadelphia community since 1993. Bob retired as CEO of HOPE worldwide in 2008 but continued to be dedicated to serving the needy.
In light of all his accomplishments, his most meaningful endeavors centered on God’s family. Bob and Pat sparked a revival in a small Church of Christ in Boston that grew to meet regularly in the Boston Garden and launched churches around the world. Bob was also the patriarch of a large family. He is survived by Pat, his wife of 48 years, his three children, nine grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister, Christine, and brother, David, of Pittsburgh, PA.
Robert Gempel was a principled and passionate man. His first loves were God, his family, and those in need. His secondary loves included sailing at Bustins Island in Maine, cars, working in his yard, and holding babies. He will be greatly missed.
Bob means so much to so many, and since his passing, tremendous expressions of love, support, and comfort have come in from around the world. With Bob’s numerous roles in the Philadelphia church as a leader, elder, counselor, and friend, his service as a founding elder of the Boston Church of Christ and ICOC church leader, as well as his global influence as founder and former CEO of HOPE worldwide, Bob’s departure will surely be felt all around the world.
The family wishes to thank so many who expressed their condolences and showed great kindness during this time of sadness and loss. Although we will miss having Bob in our lives, we rest assured that he has gone to be with God.
“But those who die in the Lord will live; their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy!” Isaiah 26:19 (NLT)
If you wish to make a donation to continue Bob’s charitable work, please contact HOPE worldwide or Hope for Kids or give to the work for the poor in your local congregation in his name.