PORTAGE—Richard D. Jenkins, age 78, passed away on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, at Tivoli in Portage.
Richard Douglas Jenkins was born on Aug. 4, 1941, at Madison General Hospital to Portage residents Roger and Dorothy (Cuff) Jenkins. The family later moved to Madison and remained there until after the war when they returned to Portage.
Dick was a 1959 graduate of Portage High School and married Kay Ellen Wescott on Sept. 22, 1963, at the Methodist Church in Portage. On the day before their second wedding anniversary, Dick and Kay moved to Santa Susana, Simi Valley, Calif. in 1964, where he worked as an electronic technician for Rocketdyne, hot-firing J-2 rocket engines used in the second stage of the Saturn moon shots. He later worked as a civilian technician for the U.S. Navy maintaining TACAN navigational aids and communication equipment on San Nicholas Island and Naval Air Station Pt. Mugu. In 1980, he joined the Federal Aviation Administration at Santa Barbara, where one of his duties was maintaining the Gaviota mountaintop VORTAC located on the 688-acre ranch of President Ronald Reagan who was elected that November.
On his 40th birthday, inspired by a co-worker, he again took up the sport of running. The following year, along with his son, Keith and the co-worker, he completed the Santa Maria half-marathon in the fairly respectable time of one hour, fifty-one minutes. In 1985, he was selected for a teaching position at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City, where he taught system operations on the mainframe Host computer used in displaying aircraft identification, altitude, and location on video displays in Air Traffic Control Centers. After retirement in 2001, he worked for FAA subcontractors on ATC equipment in Chicago, Indianapolis and Rockville, Md. for periods from three to nine months. Kay especially enjoyed these short term projects, where she was able to stay in hotels and did not even have to make her own bed. (She had always considered buttering her own toast “cooking.”) Dick had an enjoyable, good life. Always interested in politics, he ate lunch in the United States Senate dining room with Wisconsin Senator Robert Kasten, compliments of his daughter, Joni, who was working as a nanny in Washington, D.C. at the time. He also attended a presidential inauguration.
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Dick is survived by his children, Jim and his daughter, Kimberly, of California; son-in-law, Matt Crocker; and his daughter, Charlotte, of Pennsylvania; Dan, of California; and his children, Danielle, Sam and Molly Kate; and her children, Daemon and Lillith, all of Oklahoma; grandchildren, Andrea, of Pardeeville, Regina; and her children, Mason, Hailey, Dorthea, William and Margaret all of Pardeeville; Spencer, of Oklahoma, and DeLois Jean “D.J.” ; and her son, Keaton, of Arkansas; and Miranda, of Arkansas; brothers and sisters, David Jenkins of Viroqua, Carolyn (Keith) Markham of Portage, Barbara (Harry) Stathas of Wauwatosa, and Robert (Pam) Jenkins of Portage. He is also survived by sisters-in-law, Jean Mootz, Joan Barrick and Dorothy Hilgendorf, and brother-in-law, Paul Hilgendorf, all of Portage and many other relatives and friends. Dick was preceded in death by his parents; his wife and best friend, Kay, on Sept. 22, 2010 (their 48th wedding anniversary); his oldest son, Keith on Nov. 12, 2009; and daughter, Joan on Nov. 25, 2017. He was also preceded in death by three brothers-in-law, Bill Wescott, Joe Mootz and Tom Barrick; and a sister-in-law, Mary “Betty” Knudsen.
Memorial services will be held and announced at a later date at the Portage United Methodist Church. The Pflanz Mantey Mendrala in Portage (www.pmmfh.com) is assisting the family.
The family wishes to thank all the folks who helped Dick in the past few years.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16