TURNER - Kenneth Clay Kegel, a life-long resident of the Turner farming community, died Sunday, March 20, 2005, of lung cancer at his home in Blaine County.
A funeral service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday in the American Lutheran Church in Turner with the Rev. Scott Hedegaard officiating. Burial will
be at the Wing Cemetery immediately following the service.
Ken was born Oct. 10, 1921, at home on the family farm at Little Jewel to Charles Fredrick and Anna (Houska) Kegel. He lived almost his entire life less than a half-mile from his birthplace on the Kegel family homestead. Ken farmed the land there for more than 50 years.
After attending the rural school at Little Jewel for seven years, he transferred to the Turner Public School and graduated with the high school class of 1939.
Two years later, Ken was called to take his physical exam for induction into the U.S. military services. Being classified 4-F and informed that no future exams would be scheduled, he continued to help his father with the farm work.
In 1940, he attended a course in radio and writing communications in Spokane, Wash. In 1941 and 1942, he was enrolled at Northern Montana College, and while there he met Clarice Habedank. They were married in the Malta Lutheran Church on Aug. 6, 1944. During the winters of 1944 and 1945 he worked as a fireman for the Great Northern Railroad out of Whitefish and Havre.
He rented his father's farm in 1946 and a few years later a purchase agreement was made. Since then, many acres were added to the initial holdings.
Interested in county development, he was active in the Montana Seed Show and worked with the Extension Service and state forestry nursery. There are more than 30 varieties of trees and shrubs growing on the Kegel farmstead.
Ken was a member of the Blaine County Development program and the Montana Stockgrowers Association. He ran unsuccessfully as a Republican candidate for the state Legislature in 1963 and 1965. Later, Ken was contacted by state District Court Judge Elwell to accept an appointment to fill a vacancy on the Blaine County Commission, which he declined. He wrote and supplied articles for the Blaine County History Book.
His interest in our nation's youth resulted in his appointment as a trustee for Yellowstone Boys' Ranch, and as a group adviser for 32 Montana 4H'ers on a trip to Washington, D.C.
As a 4-H leader, Ken served as county president, district president, and as a member of the state board. He organized an exchange of 4-H'ers from New York to visit Blaine County, and the next year, Blaine County members visited the New York clubs.
Ken's family served as hosts for exchange students from Australia and Columbia. Five high school boys from Wisconsin took turns and spent three summers working on the Kegel farm.
In later years, he enjoyed making and repairing furniture in his woodshop. That interest led Ken on an unending quest to collect and restore antiques, most of them coming from the farm junkyard. Ken also collected stamps and coins and created stained glass items.
Survivors include his wife, Clarice; sons, Dan of Turner and Kerry (Susy) of Ontario, Ore.; daughter, Nancy Jones (Ed) Schafer (former first lady of North Dakota); five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Charles and Anna Kegel; brothers, Arthur, Fred and Charles; sisters, Marjorie Knapton and Alice Tollefson; and one grandson, Scott Leo.
Memorials may be made to the American Lutheran Church, Turner, MT, and Bear Paw Hospice, 30 W. 13th St., Havre, MT 59501.
Edwards Funeral Home of Chinook is handling arrangements.