In loving memory of Art Kaemmer, 40-year VocalEssence Board Member, 1983-2024

Portrait of Art Kaemmer
Art Kaemmer

Art was truly a Renaissance man: He deeply loved music; it was not a superficial thing. He was a keen listener, a person who asked fascinating questions of singers and conductors, who found composers to be amazing people that he wanted to learn from, and a man who understood what it takes for a music organization to survive. He believed Board members were there to help in any way they could–and his answer to any request was always YES!

Art served VocalEssence on the Board beginning in 1983, 12 of those years he served as President (1986-1998), and in 2018 was voted to become a Lifetime Board Member. We will greatly miss this amazing man; he was a wonderful friend to all of us at VocalEssence.

Philip Brunelle
Artistic Director and Founder, VocalEssence


Arthur West Kaemmer, MD Age 80, of St. Paul, MN died in his sleep at home on January 31. While Art was born in Huntington, NY to Arthur and Jean (West) Kaemmer, he grew up in Fond du Lac, WI and remained a Packers fan his whole life. In 1961 he enrolled in Carleton College and met his wife of 51 years, Martha Hulings. This connection to Carleton lasted a lifetime and both Art and Martha were longtime supporters and served as Trustees of the school. After Carleton, Art attended Marquette Medical School (now Wisconsin College of Medicine) and became a pediatrician by completing his residency in Portland, ME. Art and Martha moved to St. Paul in 1973 with two kids and a dog and he began a long career at Group Health, now HealthPartners. As a pediatrician, Art was always quick to hand out a “Super Kid” sticker or offer a “Gimme five!” hand slap to anyone under the age of 10. He was also well known in the Merriam Park and Crocus Hill neighborhoods as the host of Alice the Gorilla at Halloween, collecting countless bananas and canned goods for the local food shelf. In his newly adopted home of St. Paul, Art became a dedicated philanthropist and fundraiser. He served as Chairman Emeritus of the National Medical Fellowships and as Board Chair of the HRK Foundation for 25 years. Martha and he were strong supporters of numerous arts organizations throughout the Twin Cities, and Art spent many hours serving on the boards of The St Paul Chamber Orchestra, VocalEssence, The MN Opera, The Schubert Club and the Minnesota Chorale. He also expressed his love of music by serving as the organist, choirmaster and minister for summer “church” at the cabin on Lake Superior and singing bass (louder than anyone else) in the Olivet Congregational Church choir for over 40 years. Once he finished his pediatric career, Art turned his attention to another passion – fly fishing. This interest saw him fish in all corners of the world and, as Martha would often comment, the number of pictures of men and fish in his possession are epic. There is nary a riverbank, flats boat or lodge that he hasn’t told a joke in and he will be remembered by the anglers who knew him for his encyclopedic and theatrical repertoire. Art served on the boards of both the American Museum of Fly Fishing and the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust. Art is preceded in death by his wife, Martha, who died in 2018. He is survived by his son, Fred (Kate Tilney) and their daughters Gracie and Lela Tilney-Kaemmer of St. Paul, MN, and his daughter, Julia (Olivier Vrambout) and her son Luca Hynnek and daughter Zora Hynnek of Bayport, MN. Art is also survived by his sister, Loxley (Robert) Koshnick of Detroit Lakes, MN, brother Craig (Mary Yeargan) Kaemmer of Las Vegas, NV and sister Claire (Robert) Hutter of Fond du Lac, WI and numerous nieces, nephews and their children. He is also survived by his faithful dog, Geri. A celebration of Art’s life will be held later this spring.