Kenneth Lee Black, 89, of Staunton, Illinois, died on August 1, 2020 after a months' long illness. Ken was born to Howard & Louise Lee Black on January 31, 1931 in Waltonville, Illinois. In late 1944, Ken's father Howard was killed in action in Europe. Howard & Ken's mother had divorced prior to the war, and Louise later remarried to Walter Mannen who, like Louise, was deaf. Ken grew to love & admire Walter, who years later became a beloved grandfather to Ken's sons.
Ken graduated from high school in Mt. Vernon, Illinois in 1948 & attended the University of Illinois & SIU Carbondale, graduating from SIU in 1956. Ken met Staunton native Hulda A. Menke in 1954 at SIU, & they married in 1956. His college years were punctuated by service stateside in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. After graduation from SIU, he worked for 37 years at McDonnell Douglas as a mechanical engineer.
Ken was a calm, kind, & relatively quiet person. Those who knew him will recall that he was generous in both deed & omission - he rarely spoke ill of others, & one might as well have been a dentist in efforts to pull that sort of thing out of him. Ken rarely used coarse language (a trait some may have observed is likely not passed on genetically). However, before the advent of effective auto cupholders, Ken was a serial victim of hot coffee spills to the lap while driving, which tended to cause him to briefly depart from his general practice of using polite language. Yet he always maintained a firm grip on the wheel.
Ken appreciated wildlife & pets, preferring cats to dogs. While steadfastly frugal in most all things, he nevertheless spent an eye-opening sum to save a puppy stricken with parvovirus, & later installed a natural gas heater in his garage to keep the same dog warm in winter. He loved college basketball, & in retirement learned to enjoy the NFL & MLB as well. And he lovingly pretended to enjoy the endless hours of British television programming his beloved wife Hulda forced him to watch for many decades. He was also very fond of golfing & spending time with his friends.
Ken was a loving son, brother, & husband. His sons could not have hoped for a kinder or more honest, supportive, & forgiving father. He was also a beloved son-in-law to the late Rudolph H. & Caroline Menke. In his last day of life, he was up-beat, joking over the phone despite the heartbreak of COVID-limited family contact, listening to family news & reveling over being served his favorite dessert - apple pie.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his step-father, his parents-in-law, daughter-in-law Maureen Black, & infant grandson Jeremy. He is survived by his wife - Hulda (Menke) Black; his sons - Kevin Douglas, Brian Thomas, Charles Randolph & wife Virginia, & Eric Andrew; & his grandchildren - Nicholas Floars, Colin Black, & Olivia Black. He is also survived by his brother Henry Mannen, brother-in-law & sister Donald & Glenda (Mannen) Wittenbrink & their family, among other relatives.
Ken's family feels a great deal of gratitude towards Ken's doctors & to the respective staffs of Community Hospital of Staunton, Anderson Hospital in Maryville, & Heritage Health in Staunton - all of whom took great care of Ken & showed he & his wife Hulda much kindness. Most of all, they are grateful to all of Ken & Hulda's friends & acquaintances over the many years that Ken & Hulda made Staunton their home.
There are no services presently planned for Ken on account of the pandemic. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to Staunton Education Foundation or to the donor's charity of choice.
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