Ken Lemke remembered for dedication to philately

Long-time collector Ken Lemke, a high-level official with Canada’s national stamp club, has died at age 78 following a lengthy illness.

At the time of his death, Lemke, of Burlington, Ont., served as the vice-president of the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada (RPSC). He was also the current programming director of the Philatelic Specialists Society of Canada (PSSC), as well as the former president of the British North America Philatelic Society (BNAPS), and belonged to several other local, regional and national clubs.

“My dad was a man of many interests,” daughter Laura Lemke MacGregor wrote in a Facebook post on Dec. 18, a day after her father’s death.

Lemke first joined BNAPS and the American Philatelic Society in the 1970s, while living in New Jersey, but drifted from the hobby while raising a family and focusing on his career in research chemistry and business. In the early 2000s, he semi-retired to pursue what his daughter called his “real passions,” which included philately and astronomy.

Lemke joined the BNAPS fellowship, the Order of the Beaver, in 2018. His primary collecting interest centred on the King George VI era (1936-52), including postal history, censor labels, airmail material, postal stationery, varieties and more. He edited the King George VI Study Group newsletter, King George VI Post & Mail, from 2009-14 and again from 2016 until his death. His other main collecting interests included the postal history of Hamilton, Ont.; “Lady Boats,” a series of Canadian National Steamships vessels used to deliver mail in the 20th century; and the Grand Trunk Railway.

“Ken will be missed not only by his family but all his friends in philately,” said RPSC President Sam Chiu, of Toronto, who met Lemke when he joined the invite-only PSSC in 2016. “He guided the RPSC board with many years of experience working as a top executive in a multi-million dollar business, and his no-bull approach helped our board in many difficult decisions. He was still running several sub-committees, and these committees’ advances will be slowed to put it lightly.”

While Chiu said Lemke’s volunteerism “cannot be replaced,” the RPSC has been “very diligent” in finding a new person to take on the vice-president position, who will be announced soon.

Lemke’s family will announce details about a celebration of life in the coming weeks.

The next edition of CSN (Vol. 37 #21, Jan. 31, 2023) will feature a full memorial of Lemke’s life and philatelic legacy.

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