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Alumni Profile: Jack Kump ’69

Jack Kump ’69 is a person who intrinsically believes that it is a person’s responsibility to give back. He demonstrated that value not only through the decisions he made regarding his finances and time, but even through his career, serving as a paramedic for 28 years. He was with the Alexandria Rescue Squad when they were called to the Pentagon on 9/11/2001. 

“You are usually meeting people on the worst day of their lives, or at least a bad day,” he acknowledged of his work as a paramedic. “Beyond the medical help, I tried to help emotionally, to make the situation bearable as much as possible, and even bring a bit of humor to it if appropriate.”

Now retired—“but not expired,” he emphasized—he has found other ways to give back and, at the same time, honor those who are important to him and inspire others. Most recently, Jack and his wife Joan donated 10 mobility scooters to the Gainesville, FL, Disabled American Veterans organization, in honor of Joanie’s father, Robert Wheeler, a World War II vet who passed away in 2014. 

“I never served in the military,” Jack explained. “Upon graduation in the summer of 1969, there were two basic paths from which to choose… one was to go to college, the other to join the military. I chose the former, but because of that decision, I've always felt I owed a special debt of gratitude to those who served in my stead, some of whom never returned. So, when Joanie's father died last year, himself a WWII vet, it was time to give back some of my good fortune to those who, but for their service and sacrifice, we'd have nothing.”  

The company from which Jack and Joanie purchased the mobility scooters, SpinLife of Columbus, OH, generously agreed to donate an additional scooter to the DAV. During the final delivery of the scooters, the couple met one of the recipients: a former Army helicopter pilot who served in Vietnam, delivering and extracting troops. He lost a leg when his helicopter was shot down in 1968. Jack described him as “a humble man, quiet and unassuming, someone who’d overcome his injuries and expected nothing in return for his sacrifice.” 

“Joanie and I have decided to make this an annual event; whether scooters or other devices or services that would benefit our veterans, we intend to honor R-MA with each donation,” Jack stated. “My life on ‘the Hill’ remains a vivid memory despite the many years passed. From that lofty prominence, I used to look out at the town below and the world beyond wondering where the path of my life would take me. Whilst I've followed its twisty trail hither and yon, it always brings me back to R-MA and the lessons I long ago learned on the Hill. And for that, I truly do give thanks.”

Jack’s generosity and commitment to R-MA do not stop there. 

“I firmly believe it was my R-MA experience that led to the successes I've enjoyed,” he said. “Of course, my greatest success was convincing Joanie to marry me! She's been a true partner in the many adventures we've shared during our 31 years together. Without her–and the fundamentals of honor, integrity, teamwork, personal responsibility, work ethic, and so many other qualities instilled in me by R-MA–my life would have surely been far less rewarding!”

Jack has found a way to honor both his wife Joanie and his alma mater: through a bequest that will establish an R-MA scholarship in her name. 

Joanie, he explained, is a special education teacher who works with preschoolers. “She has been a real rock in my life. She’s amazing,” Jack said. He described her as having a selflessness that inspires him. “People think I have a giving heart because I was a paramedic, but she is the true hero.” 

The Joan Wheeler Kump scholarship will be first and foremost for students who have career aspirations in teaching. The funds for the scholarship will come through the sale of Jack’s collection of “pulp magazines.” These rare fiction magazines were printed on pulp paper in the first half of the 20th century. They were not meant to be collectors’ items, but some people began saving them anyway. While they do not command the prices that comic books do, some are still worth a surprising amount of money. Jack is among the most avid collectors, with more than 3,500 pieces in his collection—pieces he decided should be sold after he passes away, to create the scholarship for future generations of R-MA students.  

“R-MA gave me the discipline to get an education, inspired me to want to learn, to seek answers, to ask questions with a sense of purpose and duty,” Jack said. “R-MA was a catalyst; it gave me the opportunity to see beyond myself to the bigger picture.” 

Through the generous bequest he has created, future cadets will learn those same lessons. 

Kump, right, with his wife Joanie and a veteran on the scooters donated to the DAV.