Kenneth Wilken went to be with the Lord, his savior, on Monday, March 3, 2014.
Kenneth was born to George and Martha (Finke) Wilken on July 23, 1924, at the family farm near Cameron where his grandparents settled in 1886. Ken was a lifelong and faithful member of Cameron Emmanuel Lutheran Church, where he was baptized, confirmed and married. He attended school at Cameron through the eighth grade and graduated from Kendrick High School in 1941. He studied forestry at the University of Idaho for a year, then began farming with his dad.
In 1944, he joined the Navy. Boot camp training was at Farragut Naval Training Station, after this he was sent to Lake Union, Wash., for training in the gunnery and fire control school. There he learned to use a mechanical computer to aim the 40 mm and 5-inch guns on the ship. He always thought he was pretty lucky to go to school to learn hydraulics, which were soon to show up on the farm. After school, he was assigned to the destroyer USS Killen and saw action in the Pacific Theater. Just days before invading Japan, Ken told about cheers going up from ship to ship as each received the news of Japan's surrender. He was discharged June 3, 1946.
Ken came home to the farm. He and Marjorie Wendt, a neighbor's daughter he had known all his life, were married Oct. 1, 1949. They lived briefly on Texas Ridge where his dad had a farm, but moved to the home place when his dad had a heart attack and was forced into retirement.
They had two children, David and Eva (Kirkland). Ken was "completely invested in everything his kids were doing." He helped and encouraged them in all their activities. Both he and Marjorie were 4-H leaders and were active in the county 4-H program. Ken said "I've always felt that a person should participate and do things to help out the community."
They took the family camping and on many other trips, usually with a group of friends. Ken loved to go camping, fishing and hunting, especially on the Lochsa. He said he had been there a hundred times, but was always ready to go back.
Ken and Marjorie took trips with friends to Hawaii, the British Isles, Germany, Canada, Mexico and on a goodwill tour to China. They also went to many reunion trips of the USS Killen through out the United States.
Ken served as 4-H leader for many years. He held several offices in the Idaho Wheat Growers Association, helped form the Idaho Pea and Lentil Association, and served 30 years on the Nez Perce County Crops Committee. He was always ready to try a new crop or a new variety of an old crop. He was recognized as Nez Perce County Farm Citizen of the year in 2001. He was a member of the Northwest Direct Seed Association and he and Marjorie were longtime members of the Native Plant Society.
Ken and Marjorie spent many hours tracking down information about the early residents of the Cameron area, preserving old documents and pictures that otherwise would have been lost. They made trips to visit relatives in the Midwest and gathered family information. They were always involved in some interesting project.
Kenneth survived several bouts of cancer with great grace and gentle strength. He encouraged others when he heard they were undergoing treatments. As with many other farmers he never really retired but kept an interest in new developments in farming practices. He said of farming, and maybe life, "You run into new problems all the time, but I think we can make it work."
After moving to Good Samaritan, he forged many friendships among the care givers and other residents with his quiet ways, sincerity and concern. Ken had little interest in complaining about his own discomforts.
He loved his family very much and they returned that love abundantly. Papa was always interested in their activities and well-being, even the littlest ones.
Kenneth is survived by his wife, Marjorie; son, David, (Joanie) of Kendrick; daughter, Eva, (Kim Kirkland) of Moscow; grandchildren Tracy Wilken of Moscow, Brian (Juanita) Kirkland of Nezperce and Krista (Nathan) Anglen of Moscow; great-grandchildren Nic, Morgan, Kyria, Ellie and David; and two sisters, Margaret (Paul) Kerbrat of Mission Viejo, Calif., and Marlene Meyer of Kendrick. Nieces and nephews include Steve Harbert, Steve Kerbrat, Susie Kelley, Cathy Cochran and Jack Meyer.
A memorial service is planned for 11 a.m. Saturday, March 15, at the Cameron Emmanuel Lutheran Church, near Kendrick. Lunch will follow. Memorials may be made to Cameron Emmanuel Lutheran Church or the newly formed K-J 7 Ridges Education Foundation, P.O. Box 503, Juliaetta, Idaho.
Arrangements were entrusted to Short's Funeral Chapel, Moscow, and online condolences may be sent to www.shortsfuneralchapel.net.