Kenneth Dale Vance was born on January 23, 1935 in Medford, Oregon to Cecil Leroy Vance and Merle Louise Hunt, the second of their two children. He passed away August 17, 2022 at age 87.
He met Karen Steiner in her senior year in Rainier, often driving up to the high school during his lunch hour at just the right time to pick up Karen and her girlfriends as they climbed up the hill returning from their lunch walk to town. Her friends understood they should let Karen have the front seat. They married in October after she graduated. They made their home in Rainier during the 65 years of their marriage.
Ken graduated from Medford High School in 1953 and moved to Rainier, Oregon, where he had been visiting his father and step-mother during summers and working at Goodat Crushed Rock and continued there full time, driving truck and operating many types of heavy equipment including road graders, front-end loaders and caterpillars. He became proficient on any new piece of equipment on which he climbed quickly mastering the subtle skills needed to get maximum performance from the machine. He drove heavy equipment on the maintenance crew for the Port of Longview for over 20 years until retiring in 1997. He was a hard-working perfectionist and any job he did was done right.
Ken and Karen enjoyed raising their two boys outside of Rainier in a country atmosphere with a yard large enough for football or baseball games and a good place for family gatherings around the campfire.
When he bought a front end loader and dump truck and went into business for himself for a while, he started his boys operating the equipment when they were quite young and was always ready to give the grandkids, nieces and nephews a ride when he had equipment available.
He played sports very little in school but he enjoyed playing Rainier town basketball and on some Longview softball teams. He enjoyed handball, water skiing and downhill skiing for many years and loved cheering for our boys, grandkids and
great-grandkids at their games and any other events in which they were involved. Camping was always the main family vacation. After much nagging, in 1976 he gave in and he and Karen traveled to Europe, the first of many enjoyable trips overseas. In retirement they enjoyed traveling by motor home.
His family and friends were so important. Ken was a friend to all and never passed up an opportunity to speak to those he knew any time he saw them. He always enjoyed when he could “coffee down” or have lunch with his buddies, and thoroughly enjoyed all the visits from friends and family when he was unable to get out any longer.
Ken is survived by his wife, Karen; son Ronald (Susan), and grandsons Wyles (Claire); and Connor (Arianne); son Rick (Saundra); granddaughter Desiree Gamble; great-grandsons, Tyeson and Beau Gamble; granddaughter Monica (Matthew) St. Onge; great-granddaughter MacKenzie St. Onge, and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
Ken was preceded in death by his parents, Cecil and Merle, step-mother Jean, brother Elbert, and sisters Jerilee Vale and Marilyn Fisher.
Our special thanks to both Community Home Health & Hospice and Ullmann Family Homes and staff for their loving care.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 11 am Saturday, October 8, 2022 at the Rainier Assembly of God Church. Guests are encouraged to bring their stories to share.
Memorial contributions may be made to Community Home Health & Hospice, Longview, WA, Rainier Oregon Historical Museum Building Fund, or a charity of your choice.