On February 14, 1925, Kenneth Edwin Williamson, was born to Lester (Bill) Alonzo, and Myrtle Barnhart Williamson. They lived in a house on 5 acres north of Parsons Kansas. It was during his grade school years he got the nick name Duke and it stuck with him for life. He graduated from High School in Altamont in April of 1943. During his high school years Ken majored in Agriculture, was active in FFA and held the office of president for 3 years. Ken played football, basketball and ran track. He lettered in all of them all 3 years. In his senior year he was elected Captain of the Football team. They went undefeated that year and he was voted 1st team center. In track he ran the 100 & 220 yard dash as well as the half mile run. He was also active if 4H from age 8 to 18. It was during his senior year, on February 14, 1943 that he received his draft notice. Ken got a six month deferment so he could finish High School. During that time he also started working for the Katy Railroad. He worked weekends and holidays repairing track and laying new rails. It was during this period he became a blacksmith apprentice. The Katy Railroad kept his seniority intact when he went off to serve his country.
On July 15, 1943 Ken was sworn into the US Army in Leavenworth, Kansas and was sent to Camp Bartlett Texas, outside of Abilene, for basic training. After basic ended he went on to Camp Polk Louisiana for assignment to the 84th infantry. While at Camp Polk he was sent to William Beaumont General Hospital in El Paso Texas for 90 days to train as a combat medic. He then returned to Camp Claiborne Louisiana, where he went through glider training and “marched a lot”. After his training in Louisiana he was assigned to Camp Kilmer New Jersey until September 20, 1944, then by train he traveled to New York where he boarded a ship arriving in England October 4. The 84th remained in England until the first of November, when they were shipped to France. Ken was assigned to the 335 Headquarter Co as an aid man. He was in charge of the health of approximately 130 men. He saw his first combat on November 6, 1944, somewhere near the German/Belgium border. From that time on he was on the front lines of the advancing Allied Forces., and in December, 1944, found himself in what would be known in history, as the Battle of the Bulge. Ken also saw action in Central Europe and at the Battle of Rhine River.
By the time the war ended, Ken had been in France, Holland, Belgium, and Germany. After the war ended, he remained in Germany as an ambulance driver till returning home.
It was during the winter of 46/47 that he attended an American Legion Dance, in Parsons. There he met Edna. He gave her a ring on Easter and they were married June 20, 1948. They lived in Altamont so Edna could finish High School. During that year Ken attended trade school on the GI Bill and learned to weld.
1948-49 he was a Pee Wee Coach for ten boys in Altamont. They called themselves the Cardinals. He left the team when he got a job in Chanute, then he got laid off and went to Coffeyville to work as a blacksmith, welder, and machinist in the ACME cast iron foundry.
On Oct 10th 1950 Ken went back into the Army hoping to work as a blacksmith. The Army, however, had other ideas. He was sent to Camp Louis in Tacoma Washington for a 10 day Rifleman Refresher Course and from there flew to Japan. From Japan he went by boat to Korea where he was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division 7th Regiment then to the 1st Platoon Aid Station in sight of the front lines. He was in charge of setting up and tearing down the Aid Station as they moved. He remained there till June of 1951 when he returned to the states and was discharged from Camp Carson.
He was now back home, together with his bride in Coffeyville, where he returned to his position at ACME.
In 1955, with money saved from his service time in Korea, Ken and Edna bought a 40 acre farm in Edna Kansas. They raised sheep, chickens and ducks and grew wheat on the farm. They also welcomed their first born. Their son, Leon, was born in April of 1957. Followed by a daughter, Vickie, in August of 1959. They lived there till 1963 when the moved to Coffeyville and purchased a home. There they welcomed their last child, another daughter, Toni, 1966.
Ken got into scouting when Leon was a Cub. Ken was Pack Chairman for Pack 7 and then became Scout Master of Troup 48 at the Presbyterian Church. Ken stayed in Scouting for many years. Ken received the Silver Beaver in recognition for outstanding scouting, as well as Scout Master of the year.
Ken had a love for camping. Over the years he and Edna had three different camping trailers they pulled around Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas to camp in. They loved spending the time with their children. After their children had grown and left home Ken and Edna continued to enjoy the camping life with other family members and old friends.
Before going into business for himself, Ken worked in Kansas City, Kansas for Harry Darby Boiler Makers, in Tulsa for Crane Carrier Corporation, and in Coffeyville for the Coop Refinery as a Boilermaker. In 1965 Ken went into business for themselves opening H& W Appliance in Coffeyville. Ken and Edna worked side by side in this business for many years. In March 2010 they switched the shop from H&W Appliance to The Tool Shed. They went from appliance sales and service to a tool and second hand store. Ken and Edna announced their retirement and closed the shop on June 21, 2014. This date also marked their 66 wedding anniversary. In August of the same year they moved to Broken Arrow Ok to be closer to their daughters.
On May 10th Ken passed from this earth at his home in Broken Arrow. He is preceded in death by his parents, brothers Elmer and Alfred, sister Mary Neely and son-n-law Ted Reid.
He is survived by his loving and devoted wife of almost 72 years, Edna. His son Leon and wife Pam. Daughters Vickie Reid, Toni Johnson and her husband Ken, 6 grandkids, 7 great grandkids, brother Bill and wife Gayle, sister Darlene Misener and numerous nephews and nieces
Private family services will be held and he will be laid to rest at Pumpkin Creek Cemetery. Friends are invited to sign the register and greet the family on Wednesday, May 20, 2020 from 2:00pm to 7:00pm with the family greeting from 5:00pm to 7:00pm at Ford-Wulf-Bruns Chapel. To share a memory or to leave a message of condolence, please visit www.fordwulfbrunschapel.com
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