Kenneth Wayne Mikkelsen was born January 19, 1930 in Shelley, Idaho to Ole Sophus and Eva Holm Mikkelsen. At the age of four the family moved to a farm in St. Ignatius, Montana. He attended St. Ignatius schools graduating in 1948. Later he went to work at a sawmill in Lincoln, Montana. He passed away from Parkinson’s disease with Lewy Body dementia April 20, 2020 at the age of 90 in Yakima, Washington.
On August 31, 1950 he married Ila Jean DeLack of Arlee, Montana. They would have celebrated seventy years this August. Ken continued to work at the sawmill in Ravalli, Montana. after their marriage. He rode the carriage setting the logs for lumber. The couple purchased the family farm in 1951. There they raised their family and farmed for twenty-eight years. Ken continued to work nights at the sawmill and farm during the day for seven years to provide for his family.
The farm was built into a successful dairy farm with about two hundred head of cattle. He started with eighty acres and eventually farmed two hundred and forty acres in hay and grain. He built many out buildings and was runner-up for Jaycee Montana farmer of the year. He also took flying lessons obtaining his pilot’s license and owning his own plane a Piper-Tri-Pacer. He eventually sold it and with three friends purchased a Cessna 182. On one of his birthdays he decided the family needed to learn to snow ski and together they spent many days in the winter on the mountain skiing.
He always held a love affair with the sea coming from an ancestry of seamen on the North Sea from Denmark. His mom said from the time he could float a block of wood in the bathtub his love of the water never faltered. His first attempt at building a boat was an eighth-grade project. He patterned it after the racing hydroplane boats only a smaller version. It was a wood frame with metal riveted to the frame. He ran it on the farm pond. His next attempt was a Chris Craft runabout that had been sunk in Flathead Lake. He placed it in the basement to renovate it and had to take the basement door and frame off to take it from the basement. His first attempt at fiberglass came shortly after, when he built a 20-foot runabout with a cabin. He then built a trailer to haul it on and trailered it to Mission Dam and Flathead Lake. He taught his children and the neighbor children to water ski behind it and the families spent many enjoyable days in each other’s company. His first really big boat project was a 38-foot sandwiched fiber glass sailboat. He sent to France for the blueprints and took eleven years of his and his children’s free time to build. He then built a trailer to haul it to Port Townsend, Washington.
During his farming years he served on the Farm Home Administration board, the Lake County Airport board, the School District 28 school board and helped restart the Young Republican Club of Lake County and was a Boy Scout leader. He took his son and many other neighbor youth on fishing trips into the mountains and the Great Bear Wilderness.
In 1978 the couple, having sold the family farm to his married son, moved to property they purchased in Port Townsend. Here they first built a home, hauled the sailboat to Washington and finished it in their yard. Their oldest granddaughter christened it the “C’est la Vie” in August of 1981. After sailing it for three years they sold it and he built a forty-five foot motor yacht which another granddaughter christened the “Ila-J” on April 4, 1987. The neighbors referred to it as his “backyard model.” He won a “Best of Show” award at the first Fiber Glass Boat Festival in Friday Harbor with that boat which had several design innovations. He and Ila sailed that vessel for 28 years through the San Juan Islands and British Columbia waters and spent eight summers from April 15th to the end of August in Southeast Alaskan waters.
He also built spec houses, helped a contractor on the Chimacum school and LDS church and many renovating jobs as well as assisting in the building of the Port Townsend Yacht Club where he served in many capacities including Commodore. He also built two more homes for him and his wife.
His next project was to buy a city bus from a Seattle sale, strip it down, rivet metal to the sides, add new windows and finish it as a beautiful motor home. He enjoyed doing the first one so much he did a second one and they spent some years traveling the west in these buses. After tiring of that they spent 11 years being snowbirds in Yuma before ill health forced them to stop traveling.
All his life he would envision something and set about doing it. His children and many nephews would ask “What are you doing dad, or uncle” and his reply was always “I’m building a layover to catch meddlers” leaving them still wondering what he was doing. A grandson once asked him “how did you learn to do all the things you do Grandpa?” His reply was “I just did it.”
The couples’ final move was to Yakima, Washington in 2018 to be closer to family as his health further declined. He is survived by his loving sweetheart of 70 years, Ila Mikkelsen, one son Alan (Lynette), St. Ignatius, Montana, two daughters, Kim of Yakima and Kelly (Rob) Norman of Canyon Country, California, a sister, Elaine Diamond of Great Falls, Montana, seven grandchildren, Traci (Matt) Ulberg, Lolo, Montana, Eric (Amanda) Mikkelsen, McCall, Idaho, Megan (Shawn) Hendrickson, Polson, Montana, Scott Norman, Prospect, Kentucky, Lisa (Jim) Kinney, Matt Norman and Emily Norman all of Canyon Country, California, 12 great-grandchildren, Madison, Gunnar and Steyr Ulberg, Parker, Everett and Conley Hendrickson, Jayne, Eva, Lena and Tuvali Mikkelsen, Reagan and Harper Kinney and four step great-grandchildren Moira, Finley, Sailor and Owyn Hartley. He was predeceased by his parents, two brothers, Russell and Floyd, one sister Laree Pease, one niece Gina Mikkelsen and one nephew Greg Diamond. He never met a person he didn’t like and that was reciprocated by the many, many friends and family over his long life.
Because of the Covid-19 virus, graveside services for family members only will be held Saturday, April 25 at St. Ignatius in Pleasant View Cemetery. A memorial service will be held in mid-July at his son’s home in St. Ignatius. In lieu of flowers the family requests memorials be sent to the Port Townsend Yacht Club Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 75, Port Townsend, WA 98368 a scholarship he was instrumental in starting. Please send condolences only to 5101 Summitview Ave. #17, Yakima, WA 98908. The family would also like to thank the Chandler House in Yakima for their tender, loving care exhibited by their staff in the last two and a half months of his life and to Dr. Quinlan Lu, his family physician, and his staff.