One of the highlights of my early career with the ACBL and as a bridge player, was a glorious opportunity for me to play with Edith Kemp (at that time) in the 4 session National Championship open pair event at the Spring Nationals in Cleveland, Ohio in 1965.
That event has been forever in my thoughts in spite of our not doing well in the pairs itself. Charge it off to my inexperience, or the difference in systems. Edith was a strict Roth-Stoner and my leanings were the other direction, but whatever were the true reasons, was no concern to me at that moment nor any time thereafter.
Edith was in the midst of a fantastic winning streak, having won both the Vanderbilt and the Spingold in 1963, a performance unlikely to be duplicated, especially by a woman, and one who stands just as tall today in any Lifetime Bridge Achievement associated with anyone else, even those who would be considered to have mastered our wonderful pastime.
Edith was very simply an elegant person, being an off-the-charts talented and bold player whose confidence shined forth, but never neglecting all the positive human characteristics that not all top players possessed. She was compassionate, humble, stunning in looks and dress, kind and considerate (to her partner and to the opponents), composed, titillating both in personality and in conversation, but what set her apart from others, was that those qualities stayed with her all of her life and were always abundantly on display each time I fortunately ran into her, exchanged pleasantries, and so was constantly reminded of who she was and had always been.
Rarely does a person in bridge stand for all the finest qualities the game represents such as top class play, active ethics, competitive ruthlessness, necessary complete concentration, and yet while doing, never led anyone to think that she was neglectful of all the best human qualities.
Having said the above, is there any wonder that bridge will miss her; her family and friends will mourn her; and all who came in contact with her will lose her cherished presence … especially me.