“Ralph Kemp was born on a farm near Lewis Creek and did much of his drawing on a farm near Morristown, Indiana….” according to the book, Indiana’s Laughmakers: The Story of over 400 Hoosiers: Actors, Cartoonists, Writers, and Others (1990). The U.S. Federal census records put his year of birth at 1903. In 1910 Kemp was the oldest of two sons born to Charles and Stella. They lived in Hanover, Indiana, where his father was a farmer.
In 1920 the Kemps lived in Ripley, Indiana, near other farmers. Indiana’s Laughmakers said, “Kemp was a graduate of Morristown High School and attended the University of Detroit.” His marriage to Crystal Hollingsworth, on May 28, 1925, was recorded in the Indiana Marriage Collection at Ancestry.com.
The couple lived in Gadsden, Alabama at 118 Stillman Avenue, according to the 1930 census. Indiana’s Laughmakers said, “He tried many things but believed his great love of drawing prevented his success at other careers. Over time, drawing changed from hobby to a business. Prior to that he worked for the publicity division of the Indiana state welfare department, doing art work and photography. Over a period of eight years, he developed his characterization of Tode Tuttle.”
Editor & Publisher, in its December 9, 1939 issue, made the following announcement:
Tode Tuttle to Make Debut
A new cartoonist, Ralph A. Kemp, Morristown, Ind., free-lance, will be introduced to the national syndicate field Dec. 11 when his daily one-column panel, “Tode Tuttle,” lovable old character who will express the homely humor of the Indiana Hoosiers…
Debut panel, 12/11/1939.
According to Indiana’s Laughmakers, “The syndicate and Kemp parted ways after a few years and the character was taken over and drawn by another artist…Kemp followed his cartoon career with careers in resort management, real estate, and as a tavern owner.” [Al Woods began signing the feature shortly before it ended — Allan]
While in Mazatlan, Mexico with his wife, Kemp suffered a heart attack and passed away on February 12, 1964, according to the Department of State Foreign Service of the United States of America record, Report of the Death of an American Citizen, at Ancestry.com. The document revealed he was retired and lived in Franklin, Indiana at 1001 East Jefferson. The Indianapolis News, (Indiana) published an obituary on February 20, 1964.