Kalbrenner, Kenneth P. "Ken"


(12/31/2004)

Kenneth P. "Ken" Kalbrenner, 97, of Wabasha, Minn., died Thursday, December 30, 2004, at St. Elizabeth's Nursing Home in Wabasha.

He was born March 12, 1907, in Wabasha, the son of George and Maude (Paine) Kalbrenner. He graduated from Wabasha High School in 1927. He tried to matriculate at Winona Teachers College to become a teacher and to play sports there but because he had suffered infantile paralysis when he was one year old he was not allowed to play sports and therefore did not attend the school.

Ken worked for the Wabasha County Highway Department until the mid-1930s when he was laid off because of the Depression. He later worked for Bernard Miller in the WPA program in the finance office and then worked for the Surplus Commodities Program, which he headed up for the county. He became well-known throughout the county because of his work there. In 1938, he ran for Wabasha County treasurer but was defeated. He ran again in 1942, and was elected to the post, which he held from 1942-1948. He was also appointed Juvenile Probation Officer for the county at that time. In 1948, he ran for Probate and Juvenile Judge and won that election. He held those county positions until he retired in 1973. Even though he was not a member of the parish, Ken was very involved with the St. Felix High School athletic programs, coaching football and basketball from 1929 until 1968 when the high school closed. Several of the teams participated in state tournaments. He was also very instrumental in the building of the St. Felix Gymnasium. It is named in his honor.

He loved music and belonged to a seven-piece band in the 1930s and 1940s called the "Ken Burk Band". He was the drummer and lead vocalist. In his later years Ken loved to sit at his window and watch the activity on the Mississippi River and the people walking by his home on the riverfront, always greeting them with a wave. He was one of the last true historians of Wabasha and its lore.

He married Goldeen Hovde November 14, 1942, in Minneapolis. At the time of their marriage, Goldeen was the head bookkeeper for the Gamble Skogomo Company. She died December 22, 1993.

One sister, Janet Flyckt, St. Paul, Minn.; nieces and nephews among who is Betsy (Douglas) Keim, Wabasha, Minn., survive Ken.

His wife, two brothers, Alfred and Jack Kalbrenner and three sisters, Betty Hennings, Laura Arnold and Maude Schuth preceded him in death.

A funeral service will be held on Monday, January 3, at 1:30 p.m. at the Abbott Funeral Home in Wabasha with the Reverend Lawrence Green officiating. Interment will be in Riverview Cemetery in Wabasha.

Casket bearers will be Marty Beyer, Charles McDonald, Tony Klein, Don Dick, Herman Evers and Jeff Wills.

Honorary bearers will be all the former athletes of St. Felix High School.

Friends may call at the funeral home on Sunday from 3-6 p.m. and one hour before the service on Monday.

Memorials are preferred to the Ronald McDonald Houses of Rochester and the University of Minnesota.

The Abbott Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

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