Kenneth Leroy Locke
Kenneth Leroy Locke
  • May 27, 1922 - May 22, 2017
  • Mount Vernon, Missouri

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KENNETH LOCKE died at the Veterans’ Home, Mt. Vernon, Missouri, on May 22, 2017. He passed quickly and peacefully after battling recurring pneumonia and other complications. Funeral services will be at 2:00 on June 5, 2017, at the Floral Hills Funeral Chapel, 7000 Blue Ridge Blvd, Raytown, Mo. Interment will be beside his wife of 63 years, Doris, who preceded him on Nov. 20, 2007.

He was born May 27, 1922, in Parsons, Kansas, the eldest of two sons born to Allen B. Locke and Anna (Coffin) Locke. The family moved in 1931 to a farm near Humansville, Mo., and then to Springfield, Mo in 1935. He is preceded in death by his father (1976) and mother (1991).

Kenneth and Doris are survived by all six of their children: daughter Linda (Locke) Dickison and husband Ros of Kansas City, Mo; son Courtney Locke (wife Connie) of Isabelle, Mo.; son Lane Locke (wife Cheryl) of Garden City, Mo.; son Dana Locke (wife Tera) of Kansas City, Mo.; son Kevin Locke (wife Tammy) of Gardner, Kansas; and son Loren Locke (wife Merrin) of Fayetteville, Ark.

They are also survived by 12 grandchildren: Gordon Bock (Federal Way, Wash.); Brian Bock (Simi Valley, Ca); Shannon Locke (Nixa, Mo); Amy Locke (Fayetteville, Ark.); Stacey and Ryan Locke (KCMO); Crystal (Locke) Beaver (Raytown, Mo); Kyle Locke (Columbia, Mo); Levi and Shyan Locke (Gardner, Ks); and Cader and Anza Locke (Fayetteville, Ark). Great-grandchildren include Kaitlin Carter, Molly Dean, Jason Locke, Noah Spencer, Tyler Smith, Jacob Bell, Cain Beaver, Tristan Beaver, Daniella Bock, Ellie Bock, Hyrum Bock, Carson Bock, and Becca Bock. Great –great grandchildren are Brookelyn and Sadie Smith. .

Ken attended a one-room, one-teacher country school for middle elementary grades, and graduated from Springfield, Mo (Central) High School in 1939. He then completed a BA from Southwest Missouri State, with majors in sociology and economics before reporting to the Navy in 1943. He graduated “in absentia” in June, 1943, leaving home to begin Naval Air Training. He received his wings and commission as Ensign at the Corpus Christi, Texas, Naval Air Station on Aug. 30, 1944 at 10:00 am – and married his college sweetheart, Doris Owen, the same day, at 2pm in the station chapel.

Ken was trained first as a pilot, and then separately as a navigator, and served flying the PBY Catalina flying boats in Black Cat squadron VPB-53 in the South Pacific, frequenting the Solomons, Philippines, and Okinawa as the war ended. He remained in the naval reserve, rounding out 381/2 years of naval military service. He actively flew from the Olathe, Kansas, NAS until it closed in 1970, remained on non-flying assignments for another 10 years. At NAS Olathe, his assignments included piloting in squadron VR-882; Officer-in-charge of the Summer Accelerated Training Program; Commanding officer of Squadron NAS 815. After his flying days were over, he served as commanding officer of the Naval Reserve Officers School 9-8 at the KCMO Naval Reserve Center. Ken attained the rank of Captain in the reserves before retiring. He was a member of the Navy League and was past president of the Santa Fe chapter of the Naval Reserve Assoc.

During the course of WWII he decided that teaching would be his life’s work, but at this point, had no college training in that field. After the war, he returned to SMS to complete a BS Ed majoring in history and English, graduating in 1946. He earned a M.ED in school administration in 1952 from Missouri University. In later years, he completed post-masters work, but did not pursue a PhD. - He didn’t want a position that would remove him from close, daily contact with students. He spent his working education life of 38 years as a teacher and elementary school principal, starting in Webb City, Mo (1946); Marshall, Mo High School, (1948-49); and Miami, Missouri in 1950, aiding the process of unifying the small “country” schools into one central school. He became principal of Garfield Elem. and then Pitcher Elem (both in Kansas City.) In 1966, he changed to Shawnee Mission (KS), serving schools in Overland Park, Leawood, and Prairie Village, before retiring in 1984. He served as president of the Shawnee Mission Administrators Assoc. during their trying time of unification. The family residence was maintained in Raytown, Mo.

Ken was equally proud in serving both of his two jobs, working with kids and teachers, and flying for the Navy. After retirement in 1984, he realized that he had been left with little family history to pass on to his descendants – so he spent the next 20 years researching and recording information for about 5,000 family members, close and distant. He has left his findings on computer records, and has family history volumes published and on the shelves in local genealogical libraries.

From his research, he found two interesting things about himself ….he was the tallest (as far as could be discovered) of his family at 6’31/2”, and he was the first to obtain a college degree. The first was slow in coming – his growth spurt didn’t start until he was in the Navy; the second was by having God-given inner strength and determination. This same strength and determination stayed him through all aspects of his life – from excelling academically in high school and college, to wartime service, to family responsibilities, and to the adventure of raising six very individualistic and strong-minded children.

Home was warm and safe and loving and often crazy, and our mother kept us going and in line – but a line from one of her poems says it all – when Daddy came home, our world was complete. Thanks, Dad