Resident Spotlight: Ken Lewis

Greatest Generation Exemplified

Ken Lewis

The curtain opens: A handsome man dressed in wedding attire enters the stage to marry (for the fourth time!) his stage sweetheart. Ken Lewis is the groom. When he is not actively involved in a skit for the Kirby Pines Ham-ateur Club, Ken is backstage operating the curtains. To those who know Ken, his sense of humor is one of his most endearing qualities.

All is not fun and games, however. Since moving from Collierville to Kirby Pines in 2008, Ken has volunteered to use his management and people skills in various organizations which benefit the residents of Kirby Pines. For example, Ken served one term as President of the Kirby Pines Resident Association and one term on the Advisor’s Committee (now serving as Wing Leader). He was selected as King of Kirby Pines for one year and is currently a member of The Ambassador Group for the Marketing Department. Although he is not actively dancing with the Kirby Pines Line Dancers, he remains with the group in an assisting role.

Ken in the Air Force
Ken in the Air Force, 1951

So, what kind of background produced such a giving person? Like many of his age group, known as the “Greatest Generation”, Ken’s life was shaped by involvement in two wars. With that involvement came the realization of the important things in life. This is Ken’s story:
Kenneth (Ken) Lewis was born on July 11, 1922 in Golden, Colorado. Shortly after, his family moved back to their family ranch in Sweetwater, Texas. The ranch was a beef cattle ranch and Ken earned enough money showing calves in the 4-H Club to pay for three years of college.

Ken graduated from high school in 1940 and enrolled in Texas Tech University. Like most young men at that time, Ken enrolled in the Army Air Corp Reserves. Because of WWII, Ken was called to active duty and spent the next year in flight training. He graduated in 1944 and was ordered to troop carrier units in England, France, and Puerto Rico. Their mission was to re-supply combat troops, tow gliders, drop paratroopers, evacuate the wounded and transport troops. At the end of WWII, Ken returned to Texas Tech and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture.

After graduation, Ken had a three-year career as a county agricultural agent. However, in 1951, he was again called to active duty and served in the US Air Force for two years. Ken says that the most momentous occasion in that assignment was meeting a US Navy nurse, Ensign Jean Sauer, on her first day of duty. The relationship blossomed even though their tour of duties meant both time and distance apart. They were married in 1955 after they were discharged from the Air Force and Navy.
Returning to civilian life, Ken was employed by the National Cottonseed Products Association as a field representative, retiring after 34 years as the Executive Vice President. The business had moved the Lewis family from Dallas, Texas to Memphis in 1969. His work required extensive travel not only in the US, but to the Soviet Union, Europe, Egypt, China, Japan, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Iran. A world traveler, indeed.

Ken celebrates Christmas at Kirby Pines with his family
Ken celebrates Christmas at Kirby Pines with his daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in 2015

Ken and Jean had two daughters and a son who died in infancy. Jean passed away n 2000. Ken now has three grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and a soon-to-be granddaughter-in-law.

Christ the King Lutheran Church was a cornerstone for the Lewis family. Both Jean and Ken were very active in various organizations in the church. Ken remains an active member there.

A good friend of Ken’s has described him as a good man who is willing to help anyone he can. That pretty well sums up the nature of Ken Lewis.

On pretty days you can find Ken at Fox Meadows Golf Course where, according to him, he mostly shoots his age.