When Kemper Crabb received his Bachelor of Science degree in physical education in 1954 and his Master of Science degree in education three years later, both from Sam Houston State, he followed the traditional path that was expected of most at that time. He married, began a career, had children and retired.
He spent 30 years in education as a coach, athletic director, and professor of kinesiology. He and his wife Tommye, also a Sam Houston graduate, brought up their family in San Antonio.
However, at a time in life when most people are reflecting upon their past accomplishments and settling into a time of relaxation, something unexpected happened to Crabb. After a mission trip to India, he felt called to return to the impoverished streets of that country to try to make life better for its needy citizens.
Although he was a member of a Baptist congregation, he became an ordained Episcopal minister when he had to get an official sponsor for his work, and in 1994, he organized the Order of Servants of the King, a charity organization that builds churches, schools, orphanages and hospitals in remote areas of foreign countries. His primary emphasis has been in India, Nepal and Uganda.
The work he does now is quite a distance both literally and figuratively from the east Texas Piney Woods where Crabb grew up. Even at a young age, he displayed the entrepreneurial traits that have continued throughout his life. When he was 13, he was licensed to drive an 18-wheeler. While coaching, he ran a canoe rental business on the Guadalupe River. He's had a passion for motorcycles, buying, riding and selling more than 50 over the years.
He now uses that entrepreneurial spirit to advance his work among the poor of Asia and Africa. Although he has been imprisoned, robbed, beaten and stoned, his organization is responsible for the establishment of 845 churches, 22 orphanages, three leprosy hospitals, 60 schools and one seminary school in India and Nepal.
His efforts are now focused upon Uganda, where Servants of the King expect to complete over 400 churches, two orphanages, one AIDS hospital, 20 schools and one seminary school this year.
His friend, Larry Holt of Huntsville, emphasized Crabb's selflessness and commitment to his work.
"Kemper, at the age of 75 and founder of a world wide charitable organization still uses his personal money to build and maintain orphanages and for missionary travel expenses including airfare travel four to five times a year," Holt said.
"He also travels all over the USA speaking at colleges and preaching at churches about the Kingdom of God. For 14 years and 266,000 miles, he drove a 1992 Mazda pickup with a manual transmission. Many times he would sleep on a pallet in the rear of the truck to save money on hotel expenses so he can support the orphans in India, Nepal and Uganda.
"He recently had to purchase a car with an automatic transmission because he's had complications from a poisonous spider bite he received in Uganda," Holt continued. "Though he is still recovering and is in severe pain, he still plans on traveling to Uganda several times this year."
Crabb has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times, once by Mother Teresa, for his missionary work.