Kenneth T. Pudenz, 83, of Harrisburg, Missouri, passed away with his family by his side at Boone Hospital on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022.
Ken was born on Dec. 11, 1938, (A.D. as he always clarified) in Carroll, Iowa, to Albert and Rose Pudenz, the eighth of nine children. He graduated from Mount Carmel High School in 1955. A natural athlete, Ken played basketball and pitched for a minor league baseball team. However, at age 16, Ken shifted his focus to operating the family farm after his father passed away. His life took another turn in 1961 when he walked into a hardware store and met the love of his life, Karen. Karen was immediately smitten by Ken’s bright blue eyes and his sports car parked outside. They were married in 1962 and raised five children, who bore witness to their unparalleled love.
Ken moved in 1976 to Harrisburg where he spent seven years raising cattle, hogs and fields of crops — always planted in straight rows. As family farms faced financial crisis in 1983, Ken’s attention to detail and strong work ethic proved to be assets that helped him transition to a job in construction. After a few years, Ken began working at the service station in Harrisburg, which he purchased in 1988 and renamed Ken’s Service Center. It was here where Ken become immersed in the Harrisburg community, touching the hearts of many with his playful grin, honest business practices, and loyalty to his customers. Those years were also treasured by his sons, Kevin and Kerry, as they worked side by side with their dad, sharing in his daily routine of reviewing sports statistics in USA Today, fixing cars, and joking with the locals.
Nothing was more important to Ken than his family. He and Karen spent countless hours together planting flowers, framing and matting pictures, preparing desserts for family competitions, and shopping for the best “worst” gifts for the annual Pudenz Christmas gathering. Ken was an exceptional cook and could throw a tire on the grill and make it taste like filet mignon. Ken also had a strong passion for ice cream (there’s no bad ice cream), card games, Kansas City Chiefs football, and most of all, St. Louis Cardinals baseball.
Ken is survived by his soulmate of 60 years, Karen, and their children: Kevin (Carla) Pudenz, Kerry (Chris) Pudenz, Kathy (Todd) Hezeau, Kris (Jason) Wilcoxson and Karla (Gary) Evans; 10 grandchildren: Kyle, Michelle, Lindsey (Brian), Jordan (Leah), Kelsey, Kailyn, Karter, Kendahl, Kolton and Kenton; and one great-grandson: Samuel.
He was preceded in death by his parents and siblings Thelma, Paul, Walt, Marion, Alice, Irma, Art and Fred.
Friends will be received from 2-3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, at St. Thomas More Newman Center in Columbia, Missouri, with a memorial Mass immediately following. The family requests that friends dress casually and wear red to honor Ken’s love of the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs. In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may be made to Coyote Hill, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, or a charity of the donor’s choice.
Arrangements are under the direction of Nilson-Millard Cremation and Burial Center, 5611 E. St Charles Road, Columbia, MO 65202 (573) 474-8443. Condolences may be left online for the family at www.nilsonfuneralhome.com.