Discover Rosenberg Library
A library information series
designed to give patrons and visitors to the site a closer look at the many special rooms and features of the Rosenberg Library.
ROSENBERG LIBRARY - Sandy's Room
n the fourth floor of the library, you’ll find a quiet, spacious and comfortable reading room labeled “Sandy’s Room.” It’s the perfect place to read a book, to study, or just to reflect. On a lovely old oak table flanked by easy chairs with ottomans, you may find current copies of several magazines, including Time, Newsweek, and National Geographic. In addition, there is a cabinet of personal mementos and a large oil portrait of Marion Lee “Sandy” Kempner, to whom the room is dedicated (funded by the Kempner family in 1966), along with a non-circulating library of Sandy’s books.
The room is not original to the Rosenberg Library. The 1904 building contained a lecture hall on the upper floor. By the 1950s, more room was needed for the library holdings, and a large remodeling project was undertaken. What was to become Sandy's Room was partitioned into the southeast corner of the lecture hall, and what was to become the Hutchings Gallery was created in its southwest corner.
1904 floor plan
So who is Sandy?
Marion Lee "Sandy" Kempner 1942-1966 |
Marion Lee “Sandy” Kempner, born April 16, 1942, was the son of a prominent Galveston family, grandson of industrialist-financier I. H. Kempner. By all accounts, Sandy was a remarkable young man with a keen sense of irony and humor and a fondness for sailing. He attended the prestigious Duke University where he was on the Dean’s List; he spent time in the Peace Corps; and after initially deciding to enter law school at age 24, Sandy instead enlisted in the US Marine Corps. He landed in Viet Nam in July of 1966 and died there only a few months later on November 11. During that short time, along with two purple hearts, Lt. Kempner earned the love of the men he led, and the respect of the officers in the ranks above him.
In addition to sharing the personal articles in Sandy’s Room, the Kempner family gave permission to have his letters from Viet Nam published in the American Jewish Archives Journal. The letters, pieces of which have found their way to other publications and essays, give us a glimpse of an intelligent, witty and compassionate young man, wise for his years and dedicated to his family and to his cause: as he put it, “trying to give these people a chance and a choice.”
Galveston's Sense Of Delight and Danger
By MARY GARDNER
Published: February 19, 1989 -
The New York Times
MARY GARDNER, the author of ''Keeping Warm'' (Atheneum), a novel, lives in Galveston, Tex
[excerpt regarding Sandy's Room]
On the top floor, past glass cases of ship models and a mounted ship's wheel large enough to have steered the Queen Elizabeth, is the Rosenberg's special place: a room dedicated to Sandy Kempner, the younger son of the Harris Kempner family, one of the founders of today's Galveston. Sandy was killed in Vietnam, and his parents, along with friends, arranged to have this space set aside in his memory as a reading room. Inside the open doors are easy chairs, reading tables and a cabinet containing Sandy's war photographs, his Purple Heart and other mementos. On the opposite wall is a painting of him standing on the deck of a sailboat, the painting framed by shelves containing his books. Visiting Sandy's Room is like visiting the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, a pilgrimage combining sorrow, curiosity, and love.
Sandy's Room on the web:
"I came to Galveston and the Rosenberg Library. I had an opportunity to sit in Sandy's Room; look at his portrait and reflect on just how lucky I am to be in a country that develops young men like Marion Kempner; with such dedication to duty and to the cause of Liberty. It was a memorable experience for me and I sat there for nearly an hour and then came back the next day for several hours more. I did not lose any friends or family in the Vietnam war but lost several in WW II. […] And I am glad I got to know Sandy in just a small way. It meant a lot."
Virtual Viet Nam Memorial Wall, Postings for Marion Lee Kempner
Do you have a question about the Rosenberg Library building or some part of it that piques your interest? Let us know, and maybe we can help you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, see the other entries in this Discover series by clicking here