Kenneth J. Vander Velden, age 82, was peacefully called home on October 8, 2020, with his children by his side.
Ken was born on January 9, 1938, son of the late Lyle and Estelle (nee Maciejwski) Vander Velden. He grew up in Kimberly with his father and three brothers, setting pins at Van’s Bar and Bowling, the bowling alley owned by his father. In 8th grade, Ken held hands with a girl and never let go. On December 28, 1958, he was united in marriage to Karin Jo Prusynski. They were blessed to be together for 60 wonderful years.
Ken was a proud graduate of Kimberly High School, Class of 1956. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. He later continued his love of learning to earn a Master’s Degree in School Counseling.
Ken was a dedicated and inspiring educator. He spent more than 30 years with the Kaukauna Area School District, teaching physical science and biology at the high school. Ken made real connections with his students, engaging his students in learning or just in life. He was truly a favorite teacher to many who had him.
Throughout his career, Ken also served Kaukauna as a Coach and Athletic Director. Although some of his teams came close, he never quite made it to the big game. That didn’t matter so much to Ken; although he liked to win, he was in it for the love of the game, for teamwork, for being part of something bigger than yourself. He would fondly remember every player and could retell almost every play. On and off the field, “Coach” made a difference to so many.
Ken was a talented athlete in his own right, playing three sports in college (baseball, basketball and football) and turning down an offer to play minor league baseball in order to pursue education and family. Ken is included in four Athletic Halls of Fame.
In his free time, Ken enjoyed traveling, fishing, camping at Evergreen Campground and swimming at the YMCA. He spent several summers with his sons, son-in-law, and grandchildren fishing in Canada. He was an avid fan of anything sports - Packers, Brewers, Badgers, Bucks, Ghosts and even Papermakers. After he retired, he volunteered for almost 20 years at St. Josephs Food Pantry and at Loaves & Fishes.
Ken was a devout Catholic and had a deep faith. He attended St. Aloysius Church in Kaukauna and St. Paul’s Church in Combined Locks.
Ken’s passion was people. He built many lifelong relationships with his fellow teachers and coaches as well as many of his students. And most importantly, Ken’s heart belonged to his family. He was the provider, the protector, the backbone. He loved and cared for his wife until she parted. He was proud of his children and grandchildren, of their work and accomplishments. He had a way of making each and everyone feel special. He was a kind and generous man whose smile lit up a room. Ken made the world a better place.
Ken was a devoted husband, father, son, grandfather, teacher, coach and friend. His smile, his goodness, his spirit will truly be missed.
Ken is survived by his five children and grandchildren; Louise (Ted) Becklund, Max, Nick, Heather and Aimee (Dustin); John Vander Velden, Zachary (LuTia) and Ashton; Larry (Beverly) Vander Velden, Jordan and Paige; Joanne (Joseph) Metzen, Samuel (Erica), Carter, Noah and George; Kurt Vander Velden, Rowan and Killian; 9 great grandchildren; many nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
Ken was preceded in death by his loving wife, Karin (Prusynski) Vander Velden; parents, Lyle and Estelle Vander Velden; father and mother-in-law, Ollie and Ethel Prusynski; brothers and sisters-in-law: Jerry (Bonnie), Gene (Grace), Jeff (Laurie) Vander Velden, and Linda (Dick) Verkuilen.
Ken made an impact and was loved by so many, so it is with deep regret due to the Covid-19 pandemic, that only a private family service will be held. A live stream of the mass may be viewed on the Verkuilen-Van Deurzen Family Funeral Home Facebook page on October 30, 2020, at 1:00 p.m. Interment will be in St. John Cemetery, Little Chute.
Condolences, memories and stories would be greatly appreciated by the family online at www.verkuilenfh.com. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the ThedaCare Cancer Center or your local food pantry.
To send flowers to Kenneth's family, please visit our floral store.