Rev. Kenneth W. West, 84, of Reedsburg, went home to be with the Lord whom he served faithfully on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017.
Ken was born in DeKalb, Illinois, on March 3, 1933, the third child of Conrad and Hazel West. He always enjoyed giving his birthdate of “3-3-33” and said he was born at 3 a.m. Ken grew up on a dairy farm in Maple Park, Illinois, and graduated from Maple Park High School. He went on to graduate from Augsburg University in Minneapolis, and Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul. He graduated and was ordained into the ministry in 1959. He served his first parish in Dazey/Rogers, North Dakota. His second Call was to Seneca, Illinois. In 1970, he moved to Marinette, and became the administrator and CEO of Northland Lutheran Retirement Community, a ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Northland grew from a nursing home to include independent living apartments, assisted living, and individual retirement homes. Ken retired from this ministry in 1996.
While at Augsburg, Ken met Barbara Hartz, a nursing student. They were united in marriage in 1956, and they became proud parents to Marcia Britain, Linda (Ken) Olson, Cindy (Jay) Krueger, and David (Pam) West. Barb and Ken were married for 45 years. Barb preceded him in death in March 2001.
Ken’s sister, Norma Smith, introduced him to her dear friend, Shirley Carlson, whose late husband was also an ELCA pastor. On Dec. 28, 2002, Ken and Shirley were united in marriage in LaPorte, Indiana. They built a new home in Reedsburg, and began their married life there. Shirley’s three children, Natalie (Gary) Bloomquist, Jonathan Carlson, and Kristine (Jerry) Harlow were blessed with a loving, caring step-father. Shirley’s three grandchildren together with Ken’s 12 grandchildren made for a lot of birthdays to remember. Then there were 13 great-grandchildren added to the family.
Ken loved the Lord, and he loved people. He would talk to anyone he met wherever he was. He loved landscaping and spent many happy hours planning, planting, and maintaining. His lawn was his pride and joy. St. John Lutheran Church received many hours of landscaping love from Ken. Ken served as the interim administrator at the Sauk County Health Care Center for nine months during their search for a new administrator in 2006. He enjoyed getting back into his former line of work and making lasting relationships with many of the staff there. In 2012, Ken and Shirley became residents of Ridgeview Heights Independent Living in Reedsburg and enjoyed the friendship and fellowship of their neighbors.
Ken was an active member of St. John Lutheran Church, using his talents wherever they were needed. He was a member of the Sauk County Republican Party and knocked on many doors during political campaigns, enjoying meeting and talking with lots of Reedsburg residents.
In addition to his wife, Barbara, Ken was preceded in death by his parents; a newborn sister; an infant brother, Norman; his sister, Evelyn; and his brothers-in-law, Jerry Smith and Amorin Olson.
Ken is survived by his wife, Shirley; seven children; 15 grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren; sister Norma Smith; one niece and one nephew; sisters-in-law, Elody Olson, and Nancy Johnson; brother-in-law John Hartz; and many cousins and other extended family.
The family would like to extend special thanks to Dr. Christopher Wenninger who cared for Ken both physically and spiritually over the years. Thanks also to the Mayo Clinic Medical Oncology department and Dr. Hubbard. We are grateful to the staff of Reedsburg Area Medical Center, especially the chemo nursing staff, Maggie, Marsha and Dana; also to his care team during his last days. Much appreciation also goes to Agrace Hospice for loving care given to both Ken and his family during his final journey.
We will gather to celebrate Ken’s life lived in service to his Lord and Savior at 1 p.m. Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, at St. John Ev. Lutheran Church, Reedsburg, with Pastor David Glesne officiating. Visitation will be held starting at 11 a.m. until the time of the service Monday at the church.
Memorial gifts may be designated to St. John Lutheran Church, Reedsburg; the Reedsburg Area Medical Center Foundation; the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota; or Agrace Hospice Care.
Farber Funeral Home is assisting the family with the arrangements.