Remembering Ken Stoltzfus, Jr.
As you may know, our son Ken Jr. passed away on July 19, 2011, following emergency surgery for a rapidly growing brain tumor. This was the fourth “round” and by far the most serious. More info and some photos are posted below.
Sept. 17, 1960, Ken Stoltzfus Jr. was born in Coatesville General Hospital, Coatesville, PA. Here's a poem his dad wrote soon thereafter.
1962 and 1963 in Vermont
1964-65, an apprehensive "Kenny" with his family in Tulsa, OK, where his Dad was getting his A&P (aircraft mechanics license) at Spartan School of Aeronautics.
1967 in Virginia with Mark, and again with his dad, Brian, and Mark
1970, the four Stoltzfus guys going for a short ride
1970, a family portrait
1975, the Three Musketeers, with Ken on our left.
June 7, 1976, three generations, including "Grandfather, Chris D. Stoltzfus, at Stoltzfus Private Airport, Coatesville, PA, after Ken soloed the glider a few months before his 16th irthday. We made many flights then, in Ohio. It was a family affair including Ken's dad flying the tow plane; Mark doing the hook up and running the wing; and Brian driving the retrieval car. Ken was a gifted pilot.
1976, the three brothers rolling an Aeronca 7AC Champ into the parsonage basement for recover. Ken was almost 16 and had enough seniority to be Pilot in Command while his brothers pushed. He and Brian recovered the Champ, and then the Cub (1977, below) under their dad's supervision, along with rebuilding some wecked cars. The house had forced air heat, and because of the way she supported the men's projects Ken's mother was a good sport about cleaning up the paint dust upstairs. She could sometimes tell what color they were spraying by wiping her hand over the countertops.
1976, "Third Generation Pilot." newspaper article on Ken's solo on Nov. 18, 1976. The Parkesburg Post is from Parkesburg, PA, the town where his dad was born.
1977, final assembly of Piper Cub N51533 after recovering it. This is the Cub that his dad soloed in July 1957; Brian in June 1979; and Mark in April 1984. It is now owned by Mark and was recently restored.
1977, Ken (left), Grandfather and Brian. The brothers went in to Coatesville, PA and scrapped out two DC-3's for him.
1978, Ken took Grandfather a ride in the Cub in March, at Blatter Field, Orrville, OH.
1978, with Grandpa Beiler and his wife Mabel, and Ken's 1972 (?) Chevy Nova. He rolled it once, and repaired and painted it (in the parsonage basement!). Mack Truck Metallic Blue with white racing stripes! Also, with Grandmother Stoltzfus.
In late 1978. Ken spent about two months in Peru helping JAARS people repair a damaged Helio Courier. It was the start of a lifetime commitment to missions - - to using the resources God puts in your hands to make His love known to others.
1979, he spent some time with his Dad on a spray job in New Jersey where they flew this Beech AT-11.
1981. Ken did business in 1980-81 under the Kenair name. His dad was working on some other things but did the purhasing for him. One of his projects was building a wind machine with two Continental W670 radial engines, for B.F. Goodrich to use in testing their evacuation slides for airliners. He bought the engines and some other parts from his grandfather, who passed away 10-days after this letter was written. In 1982 then, he, Brian and their dad joined forces to form Preferred Airparts.
1982, Ken with Piper PA-18 N170T. He had recovered it for "Grandfather" in the winter of 1978-79. It was the last aircraft his grandfather flew, and he and Brian bought it after Grandfather's death in 1981. Mark's son Garrett soloed in it, in July 2011.
Aug. 20, 1983, Ken stood for Brian at his and Sandi's wedding.
Aug. 23, 1986, our family at Ken and Sheila's wedding. He parked the Cessna 180 in a field near the church. The family stuffed Sheila's gown in and they were happily on their way!
1986, taking Sheila for a glider ride at Blatter Field, Orrville, OH
1987, at the dedication of Ken and Brian's new Preferred Airparts' facility, Sept. 20, 1987. They wanted to make a public statement that they would use all that God entrusted to them, for His purposes. Their special friend, JAARS' Bob Griffin, was guest speaker.
June 18, 1988, Ken (far right) holding Colby at Mark and Jodie's wedding.
1989, Ken Jr. "on the spray job" with Dad and Brian.
1992, the three brothers after getting their seaplane ratings in Maine.
1996, Ken loved his children, and his nieces and nephews, all shown here at a family outing. They all loved and respected him, too, and miss him a lot.
1997 family Christmas photo
1998, the plaque speaks for Ken's heart, and it has come to pass!
1999, the four Stoltzfus men after our whole family, including the kids, spent some time on Lake Erie with two Cessna Caravan amphibians. That's Colby on the top left, Austin on the bottom right with Danae to our left of him.
1999, our growing family.
2001, Ken, Brian and our entire family worked together to do MATAs (Missions At The Airport) for JAARS and Wycliffe Bible Translators for many years. Another is planned for 2012 as a result of Ken's desire to reinstate them. (Click here)
2002 family Christmas card
2005, our family at the Stoltzfus Reunion here in Kidron, OH. Ken gave a lot of glider rides.
2006, with Brian in Samaritans Purse's turbine DC-3 in Africa. Ken cheerfully carried an extra load at home to free Brian to invest extended time there. On this trip to Africa, Ken, Danae and some others spent time in Uganda helping build an orphange.
2007, Ken's neice Tanya wanted to skydive for her 18th birthday and talked others of our family into joining her. Ken leads the way as they board the Twin Otter. One jump was enough for a lifetime for both he and Tanya!
June 2009, Ken & Sheila and his parents with a plaque given to them by our friends from JAARS. It symbolized the focus of Ken's life in a very real way.
July 2010, Ken and Sheila with very special friends Dwane and Karen Schlabach, after his surgery in Honduras. Marty Hochstetler from our area had a similar tumor and he and Susan joined them for Marty's surgery. Ken's next surgery was April 11, 2011 in Atlanta.
May 2011, Ken passing on some insight to Colby at an auction in Minneapolis. Colby also went to France with Ken in June to buy some parts. One of his childrens' comments after his death was that he taught them so much about life, from things like changing a car tire to the core Christian values that he lived by and wanted to pass on. Little did we know how little time he had for that!
July 2, 2011, Ken and his family spent over a week together in Colorado, July 2-11, and they all took a hot air balloon ride.
July 10, 2011, his family, along with Austin's friend Kristi, at the Stoltzfus Reunion in Colorado. He had surgery in Birmingham, AL on July 15 and slipped into the arms of Jesus on the 19th.
July 21, 2011.
Ken, Brian and Mark flew together many times over the years. Lots of wonderful memories! Here's a shot of their last flight together on July 21, 2011, as Brian and Mark returned to Kidron from Birmingham with their brother. He had already passed through the shadow of death and was now watching from his place in heaven.
Ken with the family Stearman.
This Stearman was bought by his grandfather, the late Chris D. Stoltzfus, in 1952. It was used as a sprayer for many years, and then sold to another operator. In 1983 our family bought it back and restored it, with its maiden flight in 2006. Ken flew it with his dad and brothers, but because he had lost his airman’s medical he wasn’t able to fly it alone. He never gave up on getting his physical back, but God chose other, and better wings for him.
Memorials at Preferred and Priority. Brian and Sandi put together two memorial displays in honor of Ken. One is in the Dispatch area, the other in Sales.
The Bottom Line
God made a perfect world, and man messed it up - thus disease and brokenness of every kind. However, God still loved us, and as John 3:16 says, He sent His Son Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins so that "whosoever will" may receive "eternal life." If life on this earth couldn’t be as God had wanted it, we could still choose to be reconciled to Him through Jesus and spend forever with Him.
Our family is more determined than ever to make God’s love and redeeming grace known to the ends of the earth; doing our part so that as many as possible have the opportunity to receive Jesus as their Savior.
The Stoltzfus family has been deeply touched and greatly encouraged by the prayers and support of so many of Ken’s and their friends from around the world. You stood with him, and our whole family, through seven years of treatment and “not knowing.”
Your prayers have been effective and God has met our need. We will continue to grieve, and to rejoice in God’s goodness, and the confidence of your ongoing prayers means more than you can know. Thank you!