Joyce Helen Kemp Laben

Born in Elgin, IL on March 2, 1936

Departed on June 30, 2019 and resided in Nashville, Tennessee

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Joyce Helen Kemp Laben went to be with the Lord on June 30, 2019. Born March 2, 1936 in Elgin, Illinois to Lois and Berton J. Kemp. Predeceased by parents Berton J. and Lois Heath Kemp. Survived by husband Robert of 48 years; brothers, Richard A. Kemp, MD (Lorie) of N. Andover, MA and John B. Kemp, Esq (Donna) of Cumru Township, MI; sister, Nancy Wenger (Jay) of Richland, PA; and cousins, Dr. Milton Gilbert of Charlotte, NC; Heath Gilbert (Cherise) of Charlotte, NC; Mark Gilbert, MD of Columbia, MO; Cheryl Bryant and Christina Fleming of Peoria, AZ and many nieces and nephews.

She grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan and graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, the University of California, San Francisco with a Master of Science in Nursing and Suffolk University, Boston, MA with a Juris Doctor degree. She taught at Boston University School of Nursing and at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. She was a Professor Emerita from the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. She was instrumental in developing the modern day Forensic Mental Health System in Tennessee from 1972 to 1974, while on leave from Vanderbilt, at the Tennessee Department of Mental Health. She co-wrote the report that led to the formation of the Mental Health Court in Nashville, Tennessee. She was inducted as a fellow into the American Academy of Nursing in 1986. For over 40 years, she was an advocate for mental health treatment of the mentally ill with criminal charges. She served on national committees for nursing organizations and was a grant reviewer for the National Institute of Mental Health. She was given awards by the American Nurses Association for Development of Health Policy in 1980 and the Society for Education and Research in Nursing, the Jeannette Chamberlain award for her work as a clinician in 1995. The alumni association of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing granted her honorary status as an alumna in 1996. She was named one of the top 100 leaders of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing at the Centennial Celebration in 2008. In 2017, she was named one of the notable graduates to be honored by the University of Michigan during their bicentennial year for her lifelong support of the mentally ill in the criminal justice system.

Visitation will be 4-8 p.m. on Tuesday, July 9, 2019 at Harpeth Hills Funeral Home. A Celebration of Life Service will be at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 at Harpeth Hills Funeral Home, 9090 Hwy 100, Nashville, TN, 37221. Interment will follow at Harpeth Hills Memory Gardens.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be given to the Joyce Kemp Laben Scholarship Fund at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, 461 21st Avenue South, Nashville, Tennessee, 37240.

9 Comments to Joyce Helen Kemp Laben

  1. John Gerdes
    July 3, 2019 4:45 pm

    I worked with Joyce in the 70’s when she was helping develop the Forensic system for TN. She was very passionate about her work and developed a great system that continues relatively unchanged today.

  2. Nancy Kemp Wenger
    July 3, 2019 10:16 pm

    You will be missed. I have a lot of memories of you while we were growing up. You had stood by me through a lot of times – both bad and good. I know you were sick and suffered. Now, you are at peace. May God be with you. May you rest in peace. You will be missed by a lot of people.

    Your little sister,

  3. cheryl bryant
    July 4, 2019 9:58 am

    Joyce was more of a sister to me than my own. I will always remember the good times, the river trip in Europe, the fun shopping and just being with her. I will miss her but will remember her always.
    Your cousin,

  4. Milton Gilbert
    July 5, 2019 11:20 am

    Joyce was much more than a cousin to me, she was truly the sister that I never had.

  5. Heath Gilbert
    July 5, 2019 11:40 am

    “Aunt Joyce” was a fiercely brilliant, yet unassuming woman who made an indelible impact on this world and those around her. She will be greatly missed by my family.

  6. Sarah Fogel
    July 7, 2019 1:43 pm

    Joyce would help anyone who had a need. Truly, a remarkable woman!! Her presence will be greatly missed at VUSN.

  7. Bob Blakey
    July 8, 2019 3:03 pm

    A true leader in the care of the mentally ill who so often struggle with life’s difficulties. As a teacher she opened many student’s eyes to the world of health care law and its impact on practitioners and patients. I will always remember her class at VUSN. My prayers continue for her family, especially her husband Bob, who I got to know just a few years ago. Joyce will be missed by many, but her life’s work will continue to impact countless individuals for years to come.

  8. Darlene Ford Hall
    July 9, 2019 12:25 pm

    Bless you Bob, Our thoughts and prayers are with you now and the days to follow. Joyce was an incredible woman. She helped so many people and left her mark on the medical world. Your life and love for almost 50 yrs will forever remind you of her caring heart. We are fortunate for knowing her personally and professionally. Keep faith and hope we will be reunited in Heaven one day. Darlene Hall and family.

  9. Melissa Sparks
    July 9, 2019 7:55 pm

    Joyce was a mentor to me as a young teenager as I attempted to find my path in life. I was in awe of her passion and ability to lead by example. I will never forget her or the value she added to my life. After becoming a nurse, I spent time working in forensics with the Department of Mental Health and got the opportunity to work within the system that Joyce, Marthagem Whitlock and Colleen MacClean worked so hard to create. What an honor to follow in the footsteps of such intelligent and inspiring women! She Will be missed greatly.

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