A Life Well Lived
Ken Stoltzfus Jr.
Sept. 17, 1960 – July 19, 2011
||Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. I Corinthians 15:58, niv
Ken Stoltzfus Jr. was born Sept. 17, 1960, in Coatesville, PA, to Ken and Elaine Stoltzfus. He shared deeply in life with younger brothers Brian and Mark. Ken was a third generation Stoltzfus pilot and aviation entrepreneur, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, the late Chris D. Stoltzfus of Coatesville, PA, and his father Ken Stoltzfus (Sr.).
Through the years Ken lived with his family in PA, TX, VT, OK and VA. He received Jesus as His Savior at an early age. The family moved to Ohio in 1974 and he graduated from Central Christian High School, Kidron, OH, in 1978.
In August 1982 he joined his dad, and his brother Brian, in founding Preferred Airparts in Kidron. Their dad handed the business off to them in 1985 and Ken played a major role in the growth of the business.
Ken married Sheila Mast on Aug. 23, 1986, and God blessed them with three wonderful children, Colby, Austin and Danae.
In 1997 he and Brian founded Priority Air Charter, and in 2004, AFM Hardware, which is managed by Mark. His unusual “business sense” was recognized by all of his family, and by others.
Ken served on the boards of Kingsway Christian School (Orrville, OH), and Steve Wingfield Evangelistic Association (Harrisonburg, VA), and as Treasurer and Elder at his home church, Mennonite Christian Assembly, in Fredericksburg, OH. He was also deeply vested in JAARS, Wycliffe Bible Translators, Focus on the Family, Crown Financial Ministries, and several prison ministries.
He was known as a man of quiet but authentic faith, and his integrity confirmed his walk with God. He lived with a compelling sense of serving God in all He did, as Paul writes of in I Cor. 15:58, doing all he could to give others opportunity to hear and receive God’s gift of eternal life. His generosity was known only to Sheila and those who benefitted from it.
He was an accomplished pilot with several ratings, and was more than once described as one of the most “natural” pilots that people knew. The loss of his airmen’s physical was a blow and he unsuccessfully fought to get it back.
Ken trusted God’s plan for his life and never complained about his battle with cancerous brain tumors. His attitude was more “Why not me?” than “Why me?” His ability to remain positive and to not be distracted or discouraged by his illness was part of his focus on things that mattered in the big picture.
Both directly and indirectly he imparted knowledge, and the wisdom and values of life, to his family. He gave them a valuable heritage to follow and left them well-equipped to carry on.
Ken’s first surgery was at the Cleveland Clinic in December 2004. He had another tumor in 2010, and in July he had surgery in Honduras with an American medical team. They used his tumor tissue and his white blood cells to create a vaccine to treat the remaining tumor, which was essentially eliminated.
However, another larger and more aggressive tumor in two golf-ball sized masses was found in March 2011, and he had surgery in Atlanta in April. He recovered and was working part-time at Preferred. He also attended several aircraft parts auctions since then.
On June 30 he and Sheila headed for Colorado in his parents’ motor home. His children flew out and the family spent a week together before attending a July 8-10 Stoltzfus family reunion. There are many cherished memories from that time.
Ken and Sheila flew home Monday night the 11th, and his MRI on the 12th showed a baseball sized tumor of the worst kind. Emergency surgery was scheduled for Friday. The plan was to remove enough of the mass to allow him to live, and to treat the remaining tumor with a vaccine that he would receive in Honduras. However, uncontrollable brain swelling did irreversible damage.
Ken Stoltzfus Jr. transitioned peacefully into God’s presence on July 19, 2011, from the Princeton Baptist Medical Center in Birmingham, AL, following emergency surgery for his tumor. He joined Sheila’s and his child lost by miscarriage, and his grandparents.