Muehlig Funeral Chapel

403 South Fourth Ave, Ann Arbor, MI


Kemp Cease

January 8, 1955July 28, 2019

Dr. Kemp Bailey Cease, loving husband, father, and friend, caring physician, innovative researcher, and trusted mentor and teacher to many, died on July 28, 2019. He was 64.

Dr. Cease’s lifelong guiding philosophy was to work every day to make this world a better place.

He was born in Raleigh, North Carolina to Elizabeth and Heister Cease. From a young age he joined the Boy Scouts, becoming a member of the Occoneechee Council, later earning the rank of Eagle Scout, and ultimately being elected to the Order of the Arrow. A formative experience was his role as waterfront director at Camp Durant, where he served as a swimming instructor to children and teenagers who had difficulty being around water.

After graduating from high school, he attended North Carolina State University and developed a love for biochemistry. He also was elected to the campus-wide judicial board and was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity.

He then enrolled in medical school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and during that time he and the love of his life, Kay Miller, were married. In 1981 Dr. Cease graduated from medical school and the two moved to Ann Arbor, where he did an internal medicine residency at the University of Michigan. He was then awarded a fellowship from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. It was in Maryland that their first child, Paul Hamilton, was born.

They ultimately returned to Ann Arbor, where Dr. Cease was hired as a clinical oncologist and researcher at the University of Michigan and the Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals. He cared deeply for his patients and strove to be the most empathetic and clinically astute physician that he could be; he would sometimes spend hours working to fully understand particularly complex cases in order to deliver the highest level of care. In his research, collaborating with dear colleague Dr. Jon Oscherwitz, Dr. Cease developed vaccines for cancer and infectious diseases and was awarded numerous grants to do so.

It was in Ann Arbor that son Andrew Morgan (Andy) was born, and later daughter Margaret Kemp (Maggie). All three of Dr. Cease’s children brought him great joy and pride, and he often shared stories about them with friends and colleagues.

Dr. Cease was a self-proclaimed lifelong learner; he was perpetually curious. In 1999 he earned an MBA from the University of Michigan. Outside of the university setting, he continued to delve into topics like computer programming, audio production, and playing guitar throughout his life. Immensely creative, he had a unique ability to bring together knowledge and experience from different fields into novel solutions. The results of this were seen in the array of research he conducted, from work on anthrax vaccines to lung cancer to informatics support for patient care, as well as in the multimodal approach he brought to teaching young medical professionals. Indeed, Dr. Cease cherished mentoring new oncology fellows and he treasured the teaching awards that he received from them.

Dr. Kemp Cease is survived by wife Kay and children Paul (Ashley), Andy (Kelsey), and Maggie, as well as brother Clymer (Patty), niece Elizabeth, Aunt Carolyn and Uncle Henry, cousins Hal (Rhonda), Donna, Greg, and many other loving family members.

In lieu of flowers or gifts, please make donations to National Public Radio (NPR), Michigan Radio, or your local Member station: https://www.npr.org/about-npr/187533209/major-gifts


  • Memorial Visitation Thursday, August 1, 2019


Kemp Cease

have a memory or condolence to add?

Feng-Ming (Spring) Kong

August 4, 2019

Kemp was a wonderful mentor and supportive collaborator to me. He may not agree with certain treatment modality or options, but he sticked to the guidelines and protocol requirements. I am so sorry to hear his passing so suddenly, I have not got chance to see him for several years. I forever appreciate his strong support of my clinical Trial and our radonc department. Kemp you are missed! Spring

Francey Oscherwitz

August 1, 2019

When my brother Jon met Kemp 28 years ago, a rare collaboration was born. Jon shared snippets about projects, grants, marathon writing sessions, deadlines forever looming. He was energized & deeply engaged. The lab was his second home & they were doing important work, becoming a super team. Jon had found his vocation.
For years Kemp remained a mystery man wrapped in Jon’s glowing superlatives— brilliant, dedicated, inventive. Who could elicit such lavish praise from my brother the skeptic? Who was this doctor, this renaissance man/academic researcher who cared deeply for patients, combatted plagues and toxins, healed computers, designed software, shared Jon’s love of dogs (& belief in a superior canine intelligence), & enjoyed butting heads over everything from AIDS vaccines to the correct pronunciation of words like “ignoramus”? (ig-nor-ay-mus, Kemp won.) Plus he had a lovely intact family.
At last one Sunday in the mid ‘90s, Kemp arrived at our mom’s house with Jon & waded into the vortex of our lively & raucous family group. He clearly relished conversation—& also (endearingly) food. He had a gentlemanly demeanor, an irresistible Southern drawl, & was a keen listener. He was curious about our kids, our hobbies. He was so unassuming that our mom forgot to be intimidated by his genius and was just her smart funny self. On that day Kemp “ceased” to be a mystery and became an adored member of our family.
We last saw Kemp in December at our nephew’s graduation party. Again he talked knowledgeably to everyone about everything—amazing us with his erudition--while balancing a plate of food! There was no foreshadowing of the calamity ahead as Jon and Kemp--our quirky dynamic duo—posed for photos in Jon’s living room. Just love, laughter, & fellowship. We feel grateful for these hours with Kemp, spent enjoying a fond reunion. We grieve with Jon for the loss of a true brother & soulmate, & send love & healing wishes to Kemp’s family & all who mourn his passing.

Paul Swiecicki

August 1, 2019

Kemp was a remarkable man. I will always remember the first time I met him and the last time we were in clinic together. His stunning intellectual curiosity was only surpassed by his humanism and belief in supporting learners and colleagues. The number of patients and lives he touched directly or through his trainees is innumerable. The VA, fellowship, and field is a much emptier place without him as we mourn his loss. My thoughts and prayers are with the Cease Family.

Muneesh Tewari

August 1, 2019

I feel tremendous loss of an exceptional human being who deeply touched my life and that of so many, many others. Kemp was so many things to me - a mentor, friend, colleague, fellow technology enthusiast, well-wisher, and much more. He had an extraordinary dedication to patients, to learning, to teaching, to science, to innovation, and to maintaining the highest standards of service with a deep sense of humanity. I always looked forward to seeing him when I was on service at the VA. Our lively conversations in the attending work-room would leave me not only more enlightened, but also feeling deeply cared for. Kemp has a special place in my heart. I miss him dearly. My deepest condolences to Maggie, Kay, and the rest of Kemp's family.

Jennifer Nagy

July 31, 2019

I have had the chance to work with Dr Cease for several years on the VA cancer Committee. He opened his heart to his patients and was such a wonderful man to work with. He always made the American Cancer Society a priority and made it easy to work with the VA and provide excellent services to cancer patients. My heart goes out to his family as he will be missed.

jerry smith

July 31, 2019

Kemp was the friend we all want but few of us are lucky to have. I was one of the lucky ones. BTW: Kemp is on the right, circa 1973. Through junior high and Broughton—especially Scouting, mentored by Powell Kidd, Bob Lilley and so many others at Camp Durant and Explorer Post 5, Kemp was the quiet leader who lead by example, not by boasting. 46 years was a long time ago, has passed in a flash, but it appears his leadership style changed none. We were born 13 days apart and in many ways were more like twins than pals. If I can find my set of old keys, I’ll be sneaking in to the Broughton clock tower and etching a better epitaph in stone. Thoughts and prayers, love and light, to Kay and the family.

David Crews

July 30, 2019

I met Kemp on the first day of med school, before he knew what he wanted to do. I always enjoyed sharing times with him that could have been overly stressful but his humor always came to the rescue. I was disappointed when I followed his career moves away from NC but was not ever surprised by his large success. I send my condolences to his family.
David Crews

Paul Christensen

July 30, 2019

I am shocked and saddened to learn this news. I had adjoining offices with Kemp for many years in the research building at the VA. He initially intimidated me with what I perceived was an overly serious persona. My perceptions were wrong. He had a wicked sense of humor and his door was always open to discuss any topic: science, medicine or otherwise. We had many conversations comparing who had more miles on the car they drove to work and what extremes we would go through to squeeze a few more miles out of these relics. His ancient Subaru won the competition, hands down. I enjoyed listening to the vigorous debates he had with Jon about planned experiments. They would challenge each other’s ideas to bring about the most creative solution to the problem. It was fun to watch. Kemp held himself and those around him to high standards in caring for patients. His integrity was unquestioned. He truly lived his philosophy ‘to work every day to make the world a better place’. Rest in Peace, Kemp.

Kathy Cooney

July 30, 2019

Kemp was my fellowship director and my first clinic attending in heme/onc and our lives continued to be intertwined over the next 25 years. He was an extremely valued friend and colleague, someone I could always count on for honest feedback. He led with integrity and was kind and compassionate.

I was heart-broken to hear this news yesterday. My sincerest condolences to his family and to his many colleagues.

Kathy Cooney
Durham, NC

Angel Qin

July 30, 2019

I will always remember his ever inquisitive mind, his passion for learning, his care for the fellows, and his dedication to the care of Veterans in the state of Michigan. A truly great man and physician was lost. May you rest in peace, Dr. Cease.