Obituary: Kenneth Leon Clark

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Kenneth Leon Clark

Port Townsend, Wash.

Aug. 21, 1912 – Sept. 30, 2016

Kenneth Leon Clark, 104, died peacefully after 4 weeks at Martha and Mary in Poulsbo, Wash. Ken was born in 1912 in Speed, Kan., to Leon Clark and Esther (Hanchett) Clark, second generation pioneers to Kansas. At age 11, Ken’s family moved to Owosso, Mich., where he met his high school sweetheart, Josephine Walter. 

In 1933, he received a master’s degree in engineering from Michigan State College. In the Depression, with no job prospects, the new graduate happened to hitch a ride with a plant manager from Flint, Mich. Days later, he was working on the assembly line at the Buick factory. Ken and Jo were married in 1936. In 1939, Ken taught in the Engineering Department at Iowa State University.

During World War II, he worked as a civilian metallurgical engineer at the Naval Research Test Laboratory in Washington, D.C. His daughter Judith was born in 1943. After the war, Ken worked on the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, N. Mex., then thereafter accepted a position with the International Nickel Company in Los Angeles, Calif. He worked for INCO in California and Cleveland, Ohio until he retired in 1974 to San Diego, Calif.

After Jo died in 1996, Ken moved to Redmond, Wash. to be near his daughter. In 2005 Ken lost his vision and moved into assisted living. In 2014, at age 100, he came to Seaport Landing in Port Townsend. He quickly joined the duplicate bridge group at the Community Center, where, despite advanced age and blindness, he was a frequent and popular winner. 

At age 102, Ken moved in with Judy and her husband Henry. Despite poor health, Ken continued to play bridge at home, and celebrated his 104th birthday by playing for 2 1/2 hours – and winning.

Ken is survived by a daughter, Judith Lahore; and a grandson, Thomas Lahore.

His ashes will be distributed at sea together with Josephine’s ashes, at a private family ceremony.

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