My heart is broken. Some of the pieces can be put back together,
but two gaping holes will always remain. Thank you so much for
being here with us today – testimony to how much Quinn and Ken were
loved and to how important they were in the fabric of our lives.
As you know, when Ken became interested in something, he pursued it
full-tilt: poker, bridge, pool, skydiving, the stock market, scotch – I
could go on and on. What you may not know is that one of Ken’s
first interests was toilets. He wanted to know everything about
how a toilet worked. Our parents took the top off the toilet
tank, and Ken spent many hours studying how the ball went up and
down. I am sure that Mom and Dad had a huge water bill during
He followed up by becoming interested in bowling alleys. He was
fascinated by how the pins were knocked down, only to stand up
again. So – Ken built a bowling alley in our basement.
The other day, I talked to our Cousin Kenneth, who is a little older
than Ken. I hadn’t talked to him in years, and he was of course
devastated to hear about the tragedy. He had many memories of Ken
– they were known as Big Kenneth and Little Kenneth – and how smart he
was. Cousin Kenneth said to me, "If you asked Ken for the time,
he would tell you how to build a clock."
A couple of years ago, when we were visiting the Oswego State campus,
Ken explained to me how he became interested in horses. During
his undergraduate studies, he found to his chagrin that he would have
to take physical education in order to graduate. Ever the
thinker, Ken decided to look for a sport that did not require him to do
all of the work. The natural choice was horseback riding – which
then became a passion. Since Ken never did anything half way, he
became not only an expert rider, but also an expert in the art of
dressage. A highlight of our trip to Vienna some years back was
our visit to the Spanish Riding School.
Ken did not consider himself a daredevil. For example, he really
believed that skydiving was a safe sport. I, however, did not
inherit that gene, but to prove that I was not a big chicken, I agreed
to go up in the jump plane. Ken then explained that I would have
to wear a parachute and take a quick lesson – just in case the pilot
told everyone to bail out of the plane when we were not actually on the
ground. Thus ended my jump plane career. But Ken never
teased me, to his great credit.
One gene that we both inherited was the motion-sickness gene. But
Ken never let it stop him. A couple of years ago, he and Quinn,
with instructor pilots, played out a "dogfight" in the air. Ken
knew what this type of flying would do to him, but he was undaunted –
and merely took along a supply of airsick bags.
To Ken, family was everything – and he had many families. Our own
family was small, but very close. Ken and I became even closer
when we lost our parents at an early age. He always took care of
me, even though I admit to being the older sibling.
We loved to get together with our cousins, and our aunt dubbed the
group "the Wonderful Cousins." Ken loved all of you and treasured
our time together. Thankfully, we were able to attend our Cousin
Warren's wedding last April. Little did we know that it would be
our last time together as a family, but I am grateful that it was a
time of great joy.
The Curtis Avenue family was our extended family, and Ken was very
proud of his association with "the street," as he called it. Ken
and our neighbor, Martha Buell Andrews, spent untold hours putting
together a Curtis Avenue reunion in 2000. Ken had just broken his
ankle – shattered it, actually, since Ken never did anything in a small
way – playing ice hockey, but he was there, cast and all. We had
a wonderful time renewing our friendships with our Curtis Avenue
neighbors and all of the honorary Curtis Avenue friends. We even
toured our high school and, for old times' sake, staged a play in Donny
Ball's garage. Thank you, Martha, for working with Ken on this
project and for letting our Curtis Avenue family know about this
After the reunion, Ken spent four years putting together the Curtis
Avenue Reunion Retrospective. He agonized over getting it done,
because he was so afraid that one of our older neighbors would pass
away in the meantime. We finished it last spring, and Ken was so
proud. How ironic it is that Ken is the one who left us.
When Doug and I started dating, the Peyton family immediately adopted
Ken. Ken loved all of you and so enjoyed his visits to Florida
and the Lake. We had such a nice time at the July reunion – and
were already making plans for next year.
When Quinn started dating Christina, the Wiedmanns adopted Ken as
well. He spent many happy hours at the farm – and enjoyed many
turkey dinners. Thank you for adding so much happiness to Ken's
Ken's Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon family was the center around which
his daily universe revolved. I can't begin to mention everyone
who was so important to him. Words can't express how much you
have all meant to Doug and to me, during our spring visits and of
course during this time of incredible grief. You have given us
unconditional love and support, and we will always be grateful. I
hope that Ken and Quinn will be a bond among us so that we will always
want to keep in touch.
Two years ago, Ken met Bette, who enriched his life with love and
companionship. Thank you, Bette, for making Ken's last years so
I cannot talk about families without mentioning our distance learning
and Stuttgart families. When they heard the news, they were with
us in our grief. Several of you are here today, and Doug and I
are so very grateful.
Before I close today, I must say a few words about Quinn, my stepson
and friend. We first met the year that Doug and I started
dating. I was away at a conference when Quinn arrived. When
I called Doug from the conference, Quinn answered, and I thought it was
Doug. Quinn was so much like Doug in every way.
I had left my key with Doug so that he and Quinn would both have
keys. When I returned from the conference, Doug and Quinn were
not home, so I couldn’t get into the apartment. I climbed up onto
the balcony and just relaxed until they returned. I knocked on
the window, and Quinn opened the door – as if he were used to people
appearing on the balcony. That was our introduction.
Quinn was just that way – he took everything in stride. We had
great fun – traveling, playing tennis, learning the computer together,
and just hanging out. Nothing fazed Quinn – even when I fried the
burritos. We would go camping with the van and the tent, and he
would always say, "Well, I guess it's my night in the tent."
Quinn got back at me last summer at the Lake. I asked him to take
me for a ride on the nice, sedate pontoon boat, but he said that I
would first have to take a ride on the very scary jet ski. Ken
took me out for a ride. When he was by himself, he would go fifty
miles per hour, but I insisted that my maximum was twelve. Ken
gave me a nice ride, and I even drove the jet ski for a while.
Then Quinn agreed to take me for a ride on the pontoon boat.
Quinn and Ken met when Quinn attended the University of Pittsburgh and
stayed with Ken at his apartment for a semester. They hit it off
immediately. We always joked that Quinn was the more mature of
the two – and he was certainly the designated driver. More than
friends, they took care of each other. When Ken broke his ankle,
it was Quinn who called me and let me know about the surgery.
Quinn and Christina took care of Ken while he was laid up, making sure
that he was as comfortable as possible and had enough to eat.
Christina, you were the light of Quinn's life. He and Ken always
called you "the lovely Christina," and I can’t think of a more fitting
designation. You always took care of Ken, and I hope that our
families will stay close.
As we say our farewells to the physical presences of Ken and Quinn, let
us take comfort by vowing to keep them in our hearts and minds
always. This tragedy has brought so many of us together today –
and many more in spirit. As Quinn and Ken did until the end of
their lives, let us stick together, keep in touch, and take care of
The idea of parallel universes has fascinated me for the past few
years. I like to think that in a parallel universe, far away from
anything we can imagine, Ken and Quinn made it over that mountain pass
into clear, calm skies and a gentle landing.
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