Kenneth James Knoettgen

August 02, 2014 ‒ April 12, 2014

Galion, Ohio

Kenneth James Knoettgen, 89, of rural Galion, passed away Saturday April 12, 2014 at the Woodside Village Care Center in Mt. Gilead.

He was born August 2, 1924 in Salina, Kansas and was the son of Matthew and Stella (Dolan) Knoettgen.  He was a graduate of Salina High School in 1943.

Ken grew up as a boy on a farm in Kansas with his folks and  numerous siblings which was often the case back in the day.  His mother Stella raised chickens for extra income and he would often recall that fondly of his mother and the chickens that she loved.  His father passed away when he was a boy from cancer.

When he was grown, he moved out to California like his oldest sister Melba and her dear husband Uncle Dee to the Long Beach area.  He spent a lot of time with them as they were particularly close.

He sent himself to college near by to learn the trade of surveyor.  He excelled at being a surveyor all of his life and built many football stadiums, freeways, flood control channels and all manor of buildings all over Southern California.

He would often times bring his huge rolls of blueprints home to work on with his Curta calculator and let me sit on his knee and play with this rather strange contraption while “we” worked on the blueprints.

When he was about 28, he met at work a woman named Jean who they quickly fell in love and decided to marry.  They actually eloped to Las Vegas.  They were married for many years and lived most of that time in Glendora.  They adopted a daughter Susan Ann after several years and then had a biological daughter whom my Dad insisted on naming Mary Louise after a girl in his class back in Kansas that he was very fond of.

He worked very hard all of those years as a surveyor to provide a good home for his wife and two daughters and when the Alaskan Pipeline began, he was one of their surveyors for many years up in Alaska.  He worked up on the North Slope in Barrow and the Dead Horse area in very severe weather conditions and many polar bears around the camps added to the “excitement” that he loved about his time in Alaska.  He also was a lifetime member of the Teamster’s Union and the Operating Engineer’s Union, and his union status was important to him.

During his time in Alaska he caught the “gold bug” fever and joined several gold panning clubs.  He actually went on a gold panning expedition on the beach up at Nome Alaska for a couple of weeks to try his hand at the Motherload up there.  He had quite an experience there in Nome and many stories to tell for years after.

He was also adept at using a metal detector and would go out into the desert back in California looking for that ever elusive “color” for his pan.

He made many trips up and down the infamous Alcan Highway during his work on the Pipeline and he had many stories to tell about those harrowing trips.  One day when I mentioned I was taking a trip to Alaska, he jumped at the chance to go along as tour guide.  We rode the train from Fairbanks to Anchorage.  I think he left his heart in Alaska.

His former wife Jean passed away in 2001 so in later years as he got older, he moved back to Ohio to stay with his daughter Susan and her family on their ranch.  Just like the old farm boy back in Kansas he was, even into his 80’s he pitched in with mowing the lawn and other work on the ranch.  While there, he also enjoyed fishing for trout and watching golf.

His lovely granddaughter-in-law Wendy Kurtz for many years was there to help look after him when his health was declining and she and her wonderful husband Brian Kurtz are now in Florida.

Dad was always the strong, steady silent type and was always there when anyone needed him to be.  He is still talked about and missed today.

Ken is survived by two daughters: Susan and husband Kevin Kern of Caledonia, and Mary Louise Knoettgen; grandchildren Brian Kurtz, Jennifer Bradley, Laura Ousley, Jamie Kurtz and Katie Kurtz and great-grandchildren Gabriel, Lorien, Jacob, Calvin and Nicholai.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by sisters: Melba, Maxine, Stella and Norma; and brothers: Joe and Harold.

There will be no public visitation or funeral service.

Snyder Funeral Home Richardson Davis Chapel is honored to serve the Kenneth Knoettgen family, and private condolences to them may be made online at: