R. Michael Kammerer Jr.
Aspen, CO ColoradoR. Michael Kammerer Jr., founder and chairman of New York-based ITN Networks, and part-time Aspenite, died Saturday, May 12, 2007, surrounded by family, in Albuquerque, N.M. He was 67. For many years, Kammerer brought his family to vacation and ski in Aspen. When in town, he enjoyed staying at Terry Butler’s Residence Hotel.Kammerer, the son of Rudolph and Catherine Kammerer, grew up in Westhampton Beach, Long Island, N.Y. He graduated from St. Bonaventure University and served in the Special Forces division of the Army National Guard.
In 1967, Kammerer married his then-wife Jeramy Campagna and settled in Chappaqua, N.Y. where they raised two children. The family later moved upstate to a 200-acre farm they built together, and which boasted one of the area’s largest beef cattle operations.In 1983, Kammerer, after 20 years in the advertising business, left to pursue an entrepreneurial opportunity in television. From a basement office in the family’s Chappaqua residence, Kammerer started a company to sell advertising time on customized, unwired networks of independent television stations across the country. Media pundits said Kammerer’s pioneering concept would fail. He proved them wrong. From its humble beginnings, ITN Networks expanded to become the largest supplier of non-network prime-time advertising in the U.S.In 1991, Kammerer turned ITN’s daily operations over to a top-notch management team and headed out west to fulfill his lifelong dream of embracing the cowboy way. Two years later, he roped his first steer and continued his passionate transformation from successful media mogul to earnest philanthropist, entrepreneur and cowboy.His 20,000-square-foot adobe ranch in Santa Fe, N.M., reflects his respect for the Native American, Hispanic, and Anglo cultures by integrating museum-quality collections of their art and artifacts. A firm believer in the values of the peoples of the early American West, Kammerer founded the Code of the West Foundation, a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the common sense values of working for what you get, helping neighbors, taking care of family, and having your handshake and word be your bond. In 2000, the Code of the West sponsored a celebratory event to honor and thank 250 ordinary people who demonstrated extraordinary heroism during the Cerro Grande fires that ravaged Los Alamos, N.M. President George H.W. Bush., Gen. Colin Powell, Sen. Alan Simpson, New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and Pulitzer Prize-winning author N. Scott Momaday were among those who made special tributes.
His admiration for heroism also led him to acquire a 1935 Lockheed Electra 10-E, the only flying sister ship of the plane Amelia Earhart used in her tragic attempt to circle the globe, and to restore a 1943 PBY Catalina flying boat so that veteran “Black Cat” naval pilots from World War II could fly her again.Kammerer, together with his wife Susan Bodelson Kammerer, contributed generously to the Santo Domingo Pueblo, the Cato Institute, the Wyoming Expanding Horizons project at the San Lazaro Pueblo, the New Mexico Suicide Intervention Project, Wings of Hope and other charitable endeavors. He also served as trustee on several museum boards and was honored by the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.Kammerer was one of those rare men dynamic enough to leave a lasting and matchless mark on two distinctive worlds – the high-powered executive offices of Madison Avenue and the dusty roping rings of the American Southwest. He took as much pride in his 1998 USTRC SW Finals Reserve Champion buckle as he did in his most recent entrepreneurial pursuits such as education reform and the development of renewable energy technologies.
He will be remembered by those who knew and loved him as a visionary of exceptional courage, conviction and creativity; as a mighty genius who tackled diverse and worthy pursuits; as a spirited and forthright citizen who encouraged those around him to envision life as it could be, not as it was – and who walked his talk by generously supporting the efforts and people he believed in; and as a loving and supportive father, husband, and friend. His memory will be cherished within an immeasurable number of hearts. He will be truly missed.Kammerer is survived by his daughter, Kristen Wolf; son, Rudolph Michael Kammerer III; wife, Susan Bodelson Kammerer; brothers, Daniel Kammerer, Kevin Kammerer and Keith Kammerer; sister, Margaret Cruise; many nieces and nephews, daughters-in-law Tina Scala and Yvonne Co; and stepchildren, David, Corinne, Perry and Eric Fishback.His memorial service will be private.In lieu of flowers, donations may be mailed to: Code of the West Foundation, 16-B Camino Calabasas, Santa Fe, NM 87506; or New Mexico Suicide Intervention Project, P.O. Box 6004, Santa Fe, NM 87502.
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