To all of Ken's beloved friends and family,
The following is the eulogy that was written for Ken, and read by Ken's nephew, Neil, at the burial service that was held, earlier today. We wanted to share this with all of you:
I’m Neil Kenneth, Kenny’s nephew, and our family wanted me to speak on their behalf, today, to share our memories of Kenny, as we pay tribute to him. Knowing Kenny, he wouldn’t have wanted us to make such a fuss, but like Kenny, we’re gonna do it anyway, because we do what we want!
Kenny had been fighting a terrible battle with Esophageal Cancer since his diagnosis last December. Because this deadly disease is such a silent killer, it is often not diagnosed until it is in its latest stages, as was the case with our Kenny.
But we are here today to talk about Ken’s life and who he was.
Kenny was the hardest working man that we ever met, - when he wanted to work. Until he wanted to sleep, and then he was the hardest sleeping man that we ever met! But, when he was awake, he was a determined visionary who turned his dream of “Grman’s Motorcycle Industrial Empire” into a reality, against all adversity.
For instance, Ken was met with great adversity when he first attempted to acquire the zoning he needed for his shop’s current location. The entire neighborhood pressed the zoning commission to vote against him. But Ken persevered. And, in the end, he won-over every single person who had previously voted against him, through his professionalism, his courtesy and his consideration for the neighborhood, and by showing them all that he was not the stereo-type that they had originally feared. In fact, the meticulous pride that Ken took in the care of his shop and property even compelled the Springfield Airport Commission to send him a “Thank You” letter, for keeping his property so nice, because it made such a good impression on the incoming flights. Determined, charming, proud and committed to his dreams.
And why did Ken decide he wanted to fix motorcycles? Because he kept crashing them! And they usually weren’t his! They were his brother Mike’s, and then his brother Mike’s again, then his various friends’, and then his brother Mike’s, yet again…. and so it began. From the early beginning, Ken and his buddies dragging their motorcycles up and down the basement steps at Walnut Street. And as Ken’s friend Mark used to tell him, “Ken put more miles on his bike carrying it up and down the stairs on Walnut Street than he ever put on it on the road.” But Ken was smart, and as was true with everything else throughout his life, if he was interested in it, he figured it out, and then he knew it as well or better than anyone else. Some would even say that Kenny was a genius. Not an academic, because his feelings for school began on the first day of kindergarten, (when he kicked and bit his teacher, and ran home and told his mom “I’m not going to THAT school!”), and those feelings pretty-much continued throughout his school years. But when it was on his terms, he could master anything. He was ninety-nine percent genius, and one-percent crazy, as is the case with all geniuses.
And, with genius comes passion. Of all of Ken’s many hobbies and interests, Ken loved railroads and trains, having built many model railroading boards. He loved guns and bullets, and even spent the last weeks of his life buying bullets for fun. He loved playing guitar. And, he loved his John Deere Tractor. In fact, in these last months as Ken was undergoing his treatments, one day when he was actually feeling pretty good, the first thing he wanted to do was cut his grass, which he did. And then, later said, “That was a bad idea!”
And with passion comes love. Kenny was devoted to his friends and family. In the journey of life and love, Ken’s journey began with Debbie when they were fifteen years old. And, after marriages and divorces, Ken and Deb still remained a part of each others’ lives until the day Kenny died. You may not always get it right, but what matters is that you tried. And from Ken and Deb’s journey, came Matthew, Ken’s only child, who is so much like Kenny that it astounds us! In fact, when Matthew was only a year old and barely walking, he would mimic Kenny, taking Ken’s keys and walking to the front door, holding up the keys to the lock and turning them back and forth with focused deliberation, just like his dad! We know that whatever Matthew decides he wants to do for his career, he will be as determined and successful as his father. Kenny loved Matthew with all of his heart.
In the last decade of his life, Kenny was blessed to have found his Inga, who truly loved him without reservation. She understood him better than anyone, and she provided the balance and stability that held them happily together. Kenny said that, because of Inga, his life was whole. And, he often said that he knew that Inga would be with him till the day he died. Tragically, as fate would have it, Ken got sick, and Inga selflessly cared for him, night and day, to the very end. Ken’s family is indebted to her, and will love her, always.
Throughout his life, Ken’s many friends knew him for his devilish sense of humor and his weird wit, his selflessness and his generosity, and his constant willingness to always lend a helping hand, whenever needed. His home-body ways, his love of old “Western” movies, his intensely analytical mind, and his unmatched pace at work, are some of the unique traits that made Kenny so special. In the Harley community, the respect that Kenny garnered was unmatched, with a reputation that reached across the nation, earned through his honesty and professionalism, and his dedication to quality workmanship and customer service. He was “the” premiere Harley motor man. He was, in a way, a living legend. Though he may now be gone, we can take comfort in knowing that there are countless Harley motors out there that will be running strong for years to come. In a way, a little piece of Kenny still rides with them.
We all have our favorite memories of Ken, who touched so many lives. We’ve all heard Kenny say “How long have you know me?” We can now say, not long enough. But we won’t forget his other favorite sayings, such as “Chance favors a prepared mind”, or “Smith and Wesson always beats four Aces”, or “It’s not that I don’t care, but it just doesn’t matter”, or, whenever he added oil to a fresh motor, “Ahhh, new oil, the elixir of life!”
Kenny always wanted people to remember the good times, and the good things, and to never to be unhappy on his account. We hope that we have honored those wishes, here today. Though we will all grieve for many days and even years to come, the memories of the good times and good things will bring us comfort and last forever. So now, every time you hear that lone Harley motor in the distance, think of Kenny.