It is difficult to put the story of Jennifer’s life into words. . .to simplify all that she was during every breath she took so that anyone who reads her story will understand her.
It is easy to tell dates of birth and graduation, but to truly put Jennifer’s passion into words can be mind bendingly difficult. You can view the pictures on this website and develop a visual image of Jennifer – long, straight dark hair, big brown eyes, always with a smile. But Jennifer was a presence, a force to be reckoned with. The pictures don’t always capture that essence. They can’t capture how tall and proud she was – and that she never second guessed wearing astronomically tall heels even though she already towered over most people. The pictures we have of her now don’t necessarily capture the fact that her favorite accessory in the world was her trusty sunglasses which could generally be found perched on top of her head – despite the hour. The pictures can’t capture the sound of her laughter which was always quick to come or provide for that look of comfort she got when the Starbucks non-fat vanilla latte was finally in her hand.
1966 was an exciting year. . .The Sound of Music won best picture at the Academy Awards, Lyndon B. Johnson was president of the United States, the Montreal Canadians won the Stanley Cup, and Jennifer was born on October 16th in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Jennifer was born to Tom and Ruth Kemp, and joined brother Geoffrey to make it a family of four. Shortly thereafter she became the oldest sister in the family with two more additions, Julie and Jack. Jennifer learned early on how to make friends quickly as the family was frequently relocated to different Air Force bases across the United States from Wichita Falls, Texas to San Bernardino, California to San Antonio, Texas to Oscoda, Michigan. The family finally settled in Fort Worth, Texas and Jennifer graduated from Southwest High School in 1984. The frequent moving served to provide the basis for Jennifer’s strong devotion to her family that was so evident in her adult life.
Following high school graduation, Jennifer attended North Texas State University, which was later renamed the University of North Texas. She was an active member of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority and supported the Mean Green Eagles throughout her college career. Jennifer completed the prestigious five year accounting program in 1989. She graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Accounting and a Masters of Science in Taxation.
Jennifer began her career in accounting at the Dallas office of Deloitte & Touche in January of 1990. She was well respected for her drive, intelligence, and dedication to her clients throughout her career with Deloitte. These traits were exhibited early on in the corporate tax and international tax areas, but her true calling was to be found in Global Employer Services (GES). Jennifer’s excellence was evident by promotions received during her career: first to manager in 1994, senior manager in 1998, followed by director in 2004. As a tax director she led the Mid-America region’s GES co-sourcing practice and the Dallas GES tax practice. Jennifer was loved and admired by both her colleagues and clients, and had an unusual ability to take a colleague or client relationship and turn it into close, caring friendship.
Her ability to recognize excellence in others and inspire those around her to achieve their true potential will continue to be the legacy of her professional career. She spent countless hours and energy dedicated to the recruitment and retention of professionals on Deloitte’s behalf. Her recruiting was focused on high achieving students at the University of Notre Dame and the University of North Texas, but especially at the University of Texas. However, once these students were identified Jennifer was dedicated to making their dreams come true. She helped them to recognize potential within themselves and was never one to back down from any young professional’s lofty aspirations. Her professional legacy will continue to be seen in those individuals that she recruited and mentored regardless of where their professional careers have taken and will continue to take them.
Jennifer’s untimely death came at a time when she was set to start a new chapter in her life. She was a few short weeks away from beginning fresh in San Jose, California. The move to California was to provide Jennifer with a change of pace, a change of scenery, and a new adventure. She was looking forward to the new challenges that the Silicon Valley would offer her from a professional standpoint, sampling wine with friends from the many vineyards around San Jose, and soaking up the beautiful California sunshine. She was ready to take on the world.
Jennifer’s love of and devotion to her family was evident to anyone that knew her. She never missed an opportunity to visit with family, especially her nieces and nephews whom she adored. Her immediate family was always conveniently close by in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, but she also had a large extended family in Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Jennifer is survived by both her parents, Tom and Ruth; her brother Geoffrey, his wife Deleigh, and their daughters, Krystal Venable and her daughter Kayleigh, and also Ashleigh Herrera (Jose) and their children Ayden and Avery; her sister Julie and husband Joe, and their children J.T. and Joanna; and finally also by her brother Jack, his wife Angie, and their daughters, Abby and Katie.
Jennifer lived her life to the fullest, and although she had a demanding career she never missed an opportunity to indulge in one of her favorite passions. Perhaps this list would be topped by attending a hockey game played by her beloved Dallas Stars. Jennifer became a Stars season ticket holder shortly after the team moved to Dallas and would entertain family, friends, and clients at these games. But her passion for hockey did not end at simply attending Dallas games. . .she was on a mission to visit every NHL hockey arena. She and close friend, Varsha, would embark on hockey “road trips” to watch the Stars play in different cities. While she unfortunately did not get to finish this journey, one of her favorite moments came in 1999 following the Dallas Stars win of the NHL championship, when she got to hold the Stanley Cup. The richness with which Jennifer had lived her life is exemplified in the many experiences she enjoyed. She loved a good steak with a nice glass of wine. She loved Tiffany’s blue boxes. She enjoyed traveling from Alaska to Hawaii to Greece to India to Europe to her beloved Vegas. She enjoyed scrapbooking and shopping – especially for new shoes. She loved concerts – Robbie Williams, U2, Madonna, and Jimmy Buffett. And she loved her cats, Kate and Leopold – and many can remember how distraught she was at the death of Marbles and Turbo.
Jennifer was working in London during the summer of 2007 when she died unexpectedly on July 30th. She will always be remembered for her ability to bring out the best in people, her infectious laugh, and the love and passion which guided her life.