The last surviving member of the committee that drew up the charter for Denton’s current form of government has died.
H.W. “Wib” Kamp, 90, a retired member of the University of North Texas political science faculty, died Monday.
Kamp was among the 15 people elected to a charter revision commission in April 1958 that eventually changed Denton from a mayor-council to a council-manager form of government.
Denton had tried the council-manager form of government earlier, according to Charldean Newell, also a retired UNT faculty member from the Department of Public Administration.
“They had abandoned it and had gone back to the mayor-council system, but it wasn’t working well,” Newell said. “In fact, there was a question whether the city could even make its payroll.”
Kamp’s daughter, Mayor Pro Tem Pete Kamp, said her father, together with Tom Harpool and Walter E. McClurkan, had worked for two years to bring the 44-year-old charter forward for revisions.
“They were pretty determined to do the right thing,” she said.
A World War II veteran, Wib Kamp grew up in Arkansas, graduating from Hendrix College with a bachelor of science in government in 1943. He went on to earn master’s and doctorate of philosophy degrees in public law and government from Columbia University. He was a professor at Columbia before moving to Denton and joining the faculty at North Texas State University, now the University of North Texas, in 1949. He served as chairman of the political science department and helped start both the doctorate program for political science and the master’s program in public administration. He retired in 1987.
When the city considered additional revisions to the charter in the mid-2000s, Harpool and Wib Kamp attended one of the committee meetings to provide background, according to Pete Kamp. Although she wasn’t able to attend that meeting, she learned later that some revisions planned for the charter were abandoned after that meeting.
“He told me later that some things were on the table, but after they asked him why they were that way, they said — even the city attorneys said it — ‘we need to leave it,’” Kamp said.
Former Mayor Euline Brock said such background knowledge is important and she regretted that the city didn’t take the time to collect those oral histories when it had the chance.
“People don’t get that history — to understand where we are, we need to understand where we came from,” Brock said.
News reports in the Denton Record-Chronicle detailed the charter revisions in December 1958. Voters ratified the charter on Feb. 24, 1959. A Denton Record-Chronicle news brief from Jan. 21, 1959, told residents to expect a copy of the charter in the mail. About 7,500 copies were mailed to Denton residents on the tax rolls, with more copies available in the city secretary’s office. Residents were cautioned that they had to have a poll tax receipt, available for $1.75 until Jan. 31, to vote on the February ballot or any other election that year.
Services for Wib Kamp will be held at 11 a.m. today in Cole Chapel of First United Methodist Church of Denton. The Rev. Lisa Blaylock will be officiating.
The family asked that, in lieu of flowers, memorials be made to the First United Methodist Church of Denton or a charity of choice.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.