T/5 in 603rd Engineer Camouflage Bn : Co D
Born 1919 in NY
County of residence at enlistment: Kings County, NY
Other residence(s): Brooklyn, NY in 1942; Boca Raton, FL in 2002
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: managers and officials, n.e.c.
College education before the war: Pratt 2-3 years
College education after the war: studied marketing
Irving Stempel was born in Brooklyn, NY on November 19, 1919. His father was an immigrant from Austria, and Irving was the older of two sons.
During high school he received a 100 on the art Regents Exam and was the only graduate of his high school who took four years of art. He was also on the track team where he set a record in the 40-yard dash at Madison Square Garden.
He then attended Pratt Institute in New York where he studied advertising and design for three years. He also took a camouflage course, probably while at Pratt.
His listing in the 1940 census stated that he was an advertising artist. He married Shirley Klasewitz on June 22, 1941 and, when he filled out his draft registration on July 1, 1941, he was living in Brooklyn and working in advertising for New Era Lithograph Co.
When Irving enlisted, on February 22, 1943, his enlistment form stated that his job category was "managers and officials." He took basic training at Fort Dix in New Jersey, and was then sent to Fort Meade in Maryland, where he became a member of the 603rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion—along with dozens of other Pratt students—and served in Europe with the unit.
Irving was discharged from the Army with the rank of T/5. After the war he and Shirley had two children: Bruce and Stefanie. He returned to his career in advertising in New York City, and worked his way up the ladder to become the art director and production manager for a medium-sized agency. According to his daughter, Stefanie, he “decided to try business for himself. He went back to college and majored in marketing. He merged his agency with Loewy Advertising and also bought out Posner Zabin, a marketing firm. He incorporated under the name Loewy Stempel Zabin, Inc., becoming the president and chief operating officer.” Eventually his son joined him in the business, and Irving became “semi-retired.”
When Irving retired, sometime prior to 1996, the Stempels moved to Florida, eventually settling in Boca Raton. While there, he served his retirement community, Brentwood at Boca. Stefanie takes up the story again: “Initially he presided over the maintenance of the grounds, developed a directory for the community, and eventually became its president. He continued to use his artistic skills by making stained glass pieces.” Many of these pieces remain with friends and family; others were sold along the way.
Stefanie reports that “he was thrilled that the story of the Ghost Army was finally going to be told, and . . . that his daughter and grandchildren were equally as excited.”
Irving died in Boca Raton on May 25, 2010, and is buried at Eternal Light Memorial Gardens in Boynton Beach, FL. Shirley died the following year.
1941 marriage record
1941 draft card
1943 enlistment record
1944 World War II hospital admission files
2010 Find a Grave record
2010 VA death record
2022 (February 5) Email from daughter Stefanie Stempel Bristol to Rick Beyer