Background Information

David W. Kemper
James M. Kemper Jr.
Mildred Lane Kemper
William T. Kemper Foundation

David W. Kemper is chairman, president and chief executive officer of Commerce Bancshares, Inc., a $14 billion regional bank holding company based in Missouri.

Mildred Lane Kemper
Mildred Lane Kemper

Kemper graduated cum laude from Harvard University in 1972. He received a Master of Arts degree in English literature from Oxford University in 1974 and an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1976. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Kemper joined Commerce Bancshares in 1978, following a two-year stint with New York-based Morgan Guaranty Trust Co., and was named president and C.E.O. in 1986. He became chairman in 1991, succeeding his father, James M. Kemper Jr.

Kemper is chairman of Washington University’s Board of Trustees; a director of Tower Properties Company and Ralcorp Holdings, Inc.; and an advisory director for Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Bunge North America. A past president of the Federal Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve, he is chairman of Civic Progress in St. Louis and a member of both the Stanford Business School Advisory Board and Harvard University’s Committee on University Resources and the Task Force on Academic Resources. He also currently serves on the boards of the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.

James M. Kemper Jr. joined Commerce Trust Co. in 1946 after serving in the army and graduating from Yale University. In 1948, he married Mildred Lane Kemper, a lifelong resident of Kansas City and a graduate of Wellesley College.

James Kemper became president of Commerce Trust in 1955 and in 1963 began the bank’s renowned art collection, which today includes more than 1,000 pieces by Nell Blaine, Donald Judd, Elaine de Kooning, Arthur Dove and Fairfield Porter, among others. In 1966 he re-established Commerce Trust under the name Commerce Bancshares, Missouri’s first major bank holding company.

A former member of the Kansas City School Board and founding chairman of the Downtown Council, James Kemper is presently chairman and C.E.O. of Tower Properties; a trustee of the Midwest Research Institute; and an associate of The Brookings Institute. He is also former chairman of the Board of Associates of The Smithsonian; a former trustee of the Committee for Economic Development; and a former board member of the Federal Reserve Board of Kansas City.

Mildred Lane Kemper had a lifelong interest in higher education. She served as a trustee of Wellesley College for 17 years. In her honor, Wellesley established the Mildred Lane Kemper Chair in Art History.

The William T. Kemper Foundation was established in 1989 after the death of James’ uncle, William T. Kemper. A well-known art collector, William Kemper was president of the former First National Bank of Independence from 1929 to 1958 and its chairman from 1958 until his retirement in 1978. Today the Kemper Foundation supports the arts, education, civic improvements and health and human services throughout Missouri, Kansas and western Illinois.