Kempton B. Jenkins, diplomat

November 30, 2012
Kempton B. Jenkins
diplomat

Kempton B. Jenkins, 86, a career diplomat who retired from the government in 1980 as deputy assistant secretary of commerce for East-West trade, died Nov. 18 at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda.

He had complications from heart surgery, said his son Peter Jenkins.

In his final government position, Mr. Jenkins helped negotiate the first trade agreement between the United States and Communist China.

A Soviet and Eastern European specialist, he began his diplomatic career in the 1950s and was stationed in Berlin and in Moscow, where he advised U.S. Ambassador Llewellyn E. Thompson Jr. during discussions with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko.

Mr. Jenkins’s diplomatic postings in the ’50s and ’60s also including Bangkok and Caracas, Venezuela. Beginning in the late 1960s, he was the U.S. Information Agency’s assistant director in charge of information and cultural programs for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

He served as principal deputy assistant secretary of state for congressional affairs before moving to the Commerce Department in the late 1970s.

After his retirement from government, he became president of the U.S.-U.S.S.R. Trade and Economic Council. In the 1980s, he was chief Washington representative for the steel company Armco. He later did consulting work for firms that included APCO Worldwide Associates. He also was president of the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council.

Kempton Boyce Jenkins was born in Jacksonville, Fla., and served in the Navy at the end of World War II.

He received a bachelor’s degree in 1948 from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, a master’s degree in political affairs from George Washington University in 1950 and a master’s degree in international business and policy from Harvard University in 1958.

He co-founded Colonial Parking while studying at George Washington University, his son said. Mr. Jenkins sold the business after several years.

His memoir, “Cold War Saga,” was published in 2010. Another book, “Airedale Tales: Poppa and His Dogs,” will be published posthumously.

Mr. Jenkins was a Bethesda resident.

His first wife, Cecile Hvale Jenkins, died in 1971 after 25 years of marriage. Survivors include his wife of 37 years, Lucy Crichton Jenkins of Bethesda; three sons from his first marriage, Peter Jenkins of Gill, Mass., and Michael and Timothy Jenkins, both of Bethesda; a stepdaughter, Ann Crichton West of Bethesda; 14 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. A stepson, Robert Greig Crichton, died in 2008.

— Emily Langer

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