Kenneth Larson, age 86, of Ames, died at Green Hills Health Care Center, on February 21, 2018. A gathering of friends and family will be 4:00-6:00 p.m. Friday, March 16, 2018, at Grandon Funeral and Cremation Care, 414 Lincoln Way, Ames, Iowa 50010. A celebration of life memorial service will be at 10:00 a.m. March 17, 2018 at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church, 209 Colorado Ave, Ames, IA.
Kenneth Leroy Larson was born on April 7, 1931 on the Charter Oak farmstead, the middle of three boys. Ken attended country school for nine years as the only student in his class. He graduated from Charter Oak High School in 1949. While at Charter Oak, he played basketball and was recognized as an All State Honorable Mention Iowa Basketball Player. He attended Iowa Teacher's college in Cedar Falls for one year with aspirations to become a high school coach. His second year of college, he transferred to Iowa State College (ISU) where he was in USAF-ROTC for four years graduating in May 1954. A member of Farm House, he was also the Senior Class President and member of Cardinal Key.
September 1954, he moved to Winter Haven, Florida, training on B-25 and T-29 aircraft. Following three years of service, stationed in San Angelo and Waco, Texas, Ken entered graduate college at the University of Wisconsin and was awarded a Crop Physiology PhD degree in 1961. Next, Ken moved his family to North Dakota State University as a professor in Agronomy for nine years.
Marrying Ruth in 1970, Ken relocated with Ruth and her children to University of Missouri for eight years as a professor/researcher and then five and a half years as Associate Dean of Agriculture. In 1984, Ken was sought to fill a similar position at Iowa State University returning to Ames as the Associate Dean of Agronomy. Prior to his retirement in 1996, he was a professor in Agronomy. While at the University of Missouri and Iowa State University, he was involved with twelve annual North Central Symposiums designed for the improvements of educational instruction. He was involved with various meetings for students, faculty and alumni. Ken's research prior to retirement was on management and production on crambe.
From 1992-2007, Ken served as a consultant for the College Board, in New York City, providing descriptions of opportunities for high school students in agriculture and agronomy. When back at ISU, Ken served as advisor to Cardinal Key, Alpha Zeta, Sigma Alpha, Agronomy/club and Farm House. He took many students on Agriculture Travel Courses while at Missouri and ISU.
As active as his professional career was, Ken continued his passive of service in his retirement years. He was an active volunteer at Food at First, being called the "Meat Man", Farm House, Kiwanis (Ames Noon and Golden K). Ken was involved with Kiwanis flipping pancakes and selling corn and apple earning the title "Mr. Sweet Corn". Ken participated in many church activities during his life from washing dishes to preparing flowers. Ken enjoyed his farming roots with gardening, crop judging at Missouri and Iowa State Fairs, hobby of weed seed and soil texture samples kits for sale. He enjoyed sharing the bounty of the produce he grew throughout his life. He would be seen bringing fruits and vegetable to staff and residence of Green Hills while living there.
Ken was on the board of Heartland Senior Center and performed annually at the Variety shows. His favorite was Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First". Ken was involved with ISU student activities, Alumni Associations and Department of Agronomy Activities. He planned several Reunions for Class of 56D USAF Pilots (2008) and ISU Class of 54 (2014). He enjoyed playing bridge with friends and wining at Bingo at Green Hills.
Ken loved his time with family, fishing, attending grandchildren events, trips with his brothers, and Hallinglags.
Ken is survived by his wife Ruth; daughters Linda Donaldson, Springfield Ohio, and Janet (Randy) Salzwedel, Fargo, North Dakota. Four Grandchildren: Christa (Dennis) Holman, Anthem, AZ, Eric Salzwedel, Fargo, North Dakota, Emily Donaldson (fiancé: Ken Brand), Lafayette, Indiana, Macgregor Donaldson, Pflugerville, Texas. One great grandchild: Parker Holman, Anthem, Arizona. Brothers: Don (Wilma) Larson, Omaha, Nebraska, and Lowell (Nancy) Larson, Sherman, Texas and nieces Kathy Kraft, Omaha, Nebraska, Bethany Larson, Storm Lake, Iowa and Rebecca Wright, Sherman, Texas and nephew Jim Larson, Omaha, Nebraska. Ruth's children: Barb Radcliffe, Ames Iowa, Dave Radcliffe, Poughkeepsie, New York, Jay Day, Seattle, Washington. Ken was preceded in death by his parents: Paul and Frances Larson and nephew, Steve Larson.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to: Food at First in Ames, Heartland Senior center, and St. Andrews Church.
Online condolences may be directed to: www.grandonfuneralandcremationcare.com
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I was saddened to hear of the passing of my friend. He was an outstanding educator with a unique empathy for students in the classroom and as an administrator in the College of Agriculture. He was always interested in novel approaches to improving educational programs. His smile and positive personality were contagious. After retirement, he remained active in helping others. That was at the core of his personality. My best wishes to his family during this challenging time.
I remember Ken as a person of great integrity, consistently genuine and friendly, and committed to the well-being of students. A great honor to have known Ken. Jon Sandor
Ken was one of my most favorite professors who I worked with in the Agronomy Department. Even as late as a few months ago, he would come in occasionally and we would always talk about him and what he was doing. I will miss his cheery disposition and smile whenever he stopped by my office. May he rest in peace. Sympathies to your entire family. Jaci Severson, Agronomy Dept, Iowa State Univesity
Food at First lost a very dear friend. Ken could be found most every day cheerfully volunteering in the Food at First Market. Ken loved helping his Food at First family, and everyone loved Ken. We truly miss you Ken.
Dr. Larson was my undergraduate advisor at the University of Missouri in 1970, and I am indebted to his mentoring and encouragement as I negotiated the transition to college life. Ken remained a dear friend and mentor. On many occasions he has bragged about his role in taking a north Missouri bulldozer operator and making him into a rural sociologist. Perhaps the most memorable request I ever asked of him was to provide me a map of the water mains on the University of Missouri campus so that I could demonstrate the craft of water-witching to my undergraduate rural sociology course. Ken took great pride in my career and when he and Ruth returned to Ames, we spent many fond hours talking about our common experiences. I will always cherish Dr. Larson's encouragement and his teaching both within and outside the classroom. He was a great mentor and friend. Paul Lasley
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