Obituary of Kenneth Larson
When we were first married Sept. 7th 1962, he asked the restaurant where he was working as a dishwasher and food prep person if they thought he could one day be a waiter out front. The person in charge then told him he would never be out front because of his cleft palate. Right then and there he vowed NO ONE would ever keep him in the backroom and that was his lifelong driving force to never be a "backroom person”.
Although he never looked down on anyone doing that job, it just wasn’t his preference. He never felt he was too good to do that job, it's just not where he wanted to be. So in our lifetime together, 60+ years, it just seemed that any job, any position, be it volunteer or paid, he eventually rose to the top and became the leader of that job or organization.
He was born August 21st 1943 in Snohomish Washington and his family quickly moved back to Minot ND where none of the doctors there had ever had to deal with a cleft palate, let alone seen one. They did what they could for him with what knowledge they had at the time, continuing over his young life until we were married at the age of 19 and 17. He had his last surgery at the age of 21.
Over all those years, he had approximately 19 surgeries to correct his cleft palate and his mother was there with him for each one, except the last one, in which I was there.
He was bullied, taunted, and teased all of his young life and it just contributed to his desire to always be the person out front and be the best he could be at whatever it was. He always seemed to end up the leader in some capacity where he learned to lead with a firm but fair hand. Always remembering from where he came. He was a baseball coach for young boys, where his team took on all the best teams in their division, and had a perfect season, with no losses.
He was given an opportunity to work his way into the grocery business having never operated one himself, but had worked in several and became a successful store owner operating Minit Market for some 46 years and finishing with The Bungalow Market for 15 years.
He joined the Optimist Club of Eugene, and helped grow several other clubs, all the while moving up the ranks to running for LT. GOV. for the whole Pacific Northwest. Out of that club, we were given the job of helping a local boxing club- West Eugene Boxing Club, supplying their boxers with uniforms and went on to join that club with our 2 sons, and not only becoming club president but the one who traveled around the state teaching other people how to judge and referee. From this, he was invited back to the Olympic boxing trials in Knoxville TN being able to judge or referee 8 of the 10 men who went on to win gold medals. That group included the likes of the Spinks Brothers and Sugar Ray Leonard who went on to become successful professional boxers. He even got to be on national TV by refereeing a fight here in Eugene for Joe Frazer JR. He got to meet Joe's father, and
even had his picture taken with him. He joined the Lane County Umpire Association and umpired for them for 27 years. He became commissioner for 24 of those years retiring in 1993 due to heart problems. This was long before computers and everything was done by hand and on home phones. His association became one of the best in the state and a few other states even called him for tips for their associations. He worked for KIDSPORTS for several years and became the head of all of the officials for all the different sports.
He bought Gantsy's ice cream shop knowing nothing about the making and selling of ice cream and using the wholesale route made it so popular, it was making inroads to one of the big boys in the ice cream world in this area at the time sit up and take notice. Along with his brother-in-law Bing Wilkinson, they started Oregon Small Grocers Association with a charter membership of 27 stores and remained their president until the dissolution of the association. His biggest and best accomplishment in Carolyn's mind was when he decided to become a real estate sales person; where with only a 9th grade education he would sit at the dining room table and study for hours as though it were his job, until he was ready to take the difficult exam for certification. He passed the hardest part first, and had to take the second part over, but did pass it on the second try. He went on to become the best salesmen in his office once he settled on selling businesses and not homes.
Ken passed away Wednesday April 19, 2023 at 7 p.m. to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and is now at peace with no more struggles.