J. Kenneth Kennedy, age 94, lifelong Platte County resident, died on Tuesday, Sept. 15 at Platte County Memorial Hospital in Wheatland after a brief illness.
He was born on Wednesday, June 9, 1926 in Wheatland to John J. and Laura (Lutzke) Kennedy, early homesteaders on the Chugwater Flats. He grew up with his four older sisters on the family farm east of Chugwater that is still in the family today. Ken was one of 13 graduates from the Chugwater High School class of 1944 and later received a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Wyoming in 1948. After graduating, he married Margaret Ann Fuller on Nov. 5, 1949 at her parents’ home in Huntley. Kenneth and Margaret then lived on the Kennedy farm in Chugwater. Throughout his life, Ken remained involved in farming operations, now managed by his son, Dan.
In 1959, Kenneth and his family moved to Wheatland where he resided until his death. He began working as an engineer for the Wyoming Highway Department in 1954. In 1965, he took over the engineering practice of the late J.A. “Jack” Cole and became engineer for Platte County, remaining in that position for 45 years. He was also the City Engineer for the Town of Wheatland for many years.
Kenneth’s wife, Margaret, died on Jan. 4, 1992. Later, he married Patricia “Pat” (Powers) Trelease in Cheyenne on Aug. 18, 1993. While they lived in Wheatland, they also spent their winters in Lake Havasu City, Ariz.. Ken and Pat also enjoyed spending time at their ranch at the base of Government Peak, west of Wheatland.
Ken served his community and state in many capacities. Promoting education was important to him. He served on the Platte County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees from 1964 to 1976. Additionally, he was a member and past president of the Wyoming School Boards Association and a recipient of its Golden Bell award. He was appointed by Governor Ed Herschler as a charter member of the Wyoming Community College Commission and served from 1971 to 1979.
He was very proud to be an engineer and surveyor. Kenneth was a long-time member of the Wyoming Engineering Society, serving as president in 1978-79. The University of Wyoming chapter of Tau Beta Pi presented him with the Society’s Eminent Wyoming Engineer Award in 2006. Governor Mike Sullivan appointed Kenneth to the Wyoming Water Development Commission, where he served from 1979 to 1985. He also received the “Headgate” award from the Four States Irrigation Council in 1985 for his dedication to irrigation projects in the region. In 2009, the University of Wyoming presented Kenneth with its Distinguished Alumni Award.
Ken worked to better his community in other capacities as well. He and his wife, Pat, were honorary chairs of the Denim and Diamonds fundraiser for the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center in 2011. He was a longtime member of the Wheatland Golf Club, where he and several others were instrumental in creating the new golf course in 1966. He was a charter member of the Chugwater Lions Club and later a member of the Wheatland Lions Club. He was also a member of Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church in Wheatland.
He is survived by his wife, Pat; daughter, Shonna (Bob) Bartlett of Spokane, Wash.; two sons, John Kennedy of Rock Springs and Dan (Dixie) Kennedy of Wheatland; three step-daughters, Gail (Warren) Brown of South Weber, Utah, Anne (Robert) Coletti of Colorado Springs, Colo., and Dr. Amy (Mike) Trelease-Bell of Manchester, Maine. He is also survived by six grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, seven step-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Margaret; his parents; and his four sisters, Mildred Smeenk, Evelyn Kepford, Bernice Jones, and Dorothy Stafford.
His storytelling and sense of humor will be greatly missed.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a memorial service will be held at a later date. Memorial donations may be made to the University of Wyoming Foundation, College of Engineering, Engineering Summer Program, 222 South 22nd Street, Laramie, WY, 82070, the Wheatland Golf Course, P.O. Box 664, Wheatland, WY, 82201, or a charity of the donor’s choice.
The Gorman Funeral Homes – Platte Chapel of Wheatland, Wyoming is in charge of the arrangements.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.gormanfh.com