Growing up the son of a music store owner in Kirksville, Missouri, Kemble A. Stout may have been predestined to pursue a career in music. He could take any instrument home. His favorites were the bassoon and clarinet.
“His main interest never varied; it was always music,” a childhood friend once remarked. “When his mother called him to come and practice the piano, he went without a whimper, even when it was his turn to bat.”
As a youth, Stout learned to play every band instrument. He parlayed that talent and a love for music into a career in teaching, composing, conducting, and performing. He became a talented pianist.
Stout died July 3, 2004. He was 87.
The Kirksville native earned a degree in education in 1936 at Northeast Missouri State Teachers College-now Truman State University-before marrying fellow student Mildred Boehner. He was awarded a scholarship to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and received a Master of Music degree in 1938. Later he taught four years at his alma mater in Kirksville, did graduate study at the University of Iowa, and taught elementary school music part-time while working at the Kansas City, Missouri, Pratt & Whitney factory in 1944-45.
The Stouts, their two daughters, and a son moved to Pullman in 1945. He thus began a 34-year association with the Washington State University music department. He returned to Rochester for the 1949-50 school year and received his Ph.D. in 1951. He was elected department chair at WSU that same year and served in that capacity for 16 years (1951-67). Following a mild heart attack, he took early retirement in 1979. The next year, the listening library in Kimbrough Hall was dedicated in his name.
Stout wrote more than 50 musical compositions and arrangements, most of them choral works. He considered a performance of the oratorio, Elijah, with the famed William Warfield as soloist, a highlight of his conducting career.
Whenever possible Stout taught a freshman music theory class so he could become acquainted with music majors early in their academic program. As a pianist, he performed in two-piano duos and other faculty ensembles, including The Kimbrough Trio. For two decades he directed the Greystone Presbyterian Church choir.
In 1958 he purchased a Steinway reproducing piano and restored it. He also collected piano rolls recorded by early 20th century pianists. His collection numbered 2,500. He wrote scripts and recorded half-hour radio shows for a series titled The Legendary Pianists. The 242 programs, distributed for broadcast use by WSU’s Radio Tape Network, aired weekly over KWSU and more than 200 educational and commercial stations nationally during the 1960s and 1970s. Two years ago the tapes were transcribed to CDs.
In 1996, the Stouts joined a small group of Pullmanites dedicated to reclaiming the old Pullman High School. The three-story brick structure, known now as the Gladish Community and Cultural Center, was the site of an August 21, 2004, celebration of his life.
Fascinated by genealogy, Stout researched and published four books documenting his grandparents’ ancestors and descendants. Thirteen years later, he published a larger, more extensive volume, Genealogy of The Kemble (Kimble) Family in America.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Kemble Stout Endowed Music Scholarship, c/o Joshua Knudson, PO Box 642632, Pullman, Washington 99164-2632, 509-335-3765, or to the Friends of Gladish, c/o Gladish Community and Cultural Center, 115 NW State Street, Pullman, Washington 99163.