Obituary of Kenneth L. Ingham, Jr.
Kenneth LeRoy Ingham, Jr., was born in West Palm Beach, Florida, on December 6th, 1937. Japan was just gearing up its war machine, the first animated movie, Snow White, was released, Howard Hughes set his transcontinental air record, the first permanent automobile license plates were issued, and steel workers’ wages were raised to $5 per day. It was a different time.
His father, Kenneth Ingham, Sr., and his mother, Eula Mae (Brantley) Ingham, had two children, Ken, and his younger brother, Glenwood Lee, and the family was extremely close. Kenneth Sr. was a plasterer, and the family often lived out of a trailer and moved to wherever he could find work, which took them across the entire United States. This nomadic existence made it hard for Ken and Glenwood to make friends, but it drew them even closer, and they did nearly everything together as they grew up. When Ken was about 10, the two brothers got their first .22 rifles, and loved to go out target shooting. They also fished, rode bikes, and explored together.
One of Ken’s first jobs was working for the telephone company, and he also delivered groceries with his scooter. In 1956, he graduated high school, and in 1957, he joined the Air Force and became an aircraft mechanic. He loved working on planes, and could fix pretty much anything mechanical. In 1960, he met and married Patricia Jane Kirk, while serving in Savannah, Georgia. They were married 42 years. He later also served in Thailand and in the Vietnam War where he was nicknamed “Jack ‘em” by the pilots, because his job was to get the planes ready for action, often lifting them with a hydraulic jack. As his career progressed, one of his proudest moments was when he became crew chief and had his name painted on the side of “his” planes. During the years, he worked on the B-47, C-130, and C-5 planes as part of the Strategic Air Command. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal and received letters of commendation from President Jimmy Carter and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In addition, he held eight other service ribbons recognizing his achievements in the Air Force, including qualifying as expert, the highest level of shooting proficiency in the military. He retired in 1979 holding the rank of Master Sergeant, proudly displaying six stripes.
Ken and Jane had three children, Kenneth III, born in 1962, Kathleen, born in 1967, and David, born in 1969. Throughout his life, Ken loved airplanes, and he took his family to air shows or to see airplanes whenever they could. They also took a yearly car trip to visit relatives, no matter where they were stationed. Over the years, the family also worked with rocks to make jewelry and took up archery and target shooting. Later in life, Ken also enjoyed gardening, especially pineapples, feeding birds and other wild animals, and his much beloved M-1 Garand rifle. He listened to country music, and especially appreciated Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, and the Statler Brothers.
Throughout his life, the strong family values Ken learned as a child were exhibited to his growing clan. He attended countless band concerts, award ceremonies, church activities, and family outings, and instilled in them a love of travel, the great outdoors, and caring about others. He never raised his voice, but always had a calm demeanor, regardless of the circumstances, and he leaned on his Christian faith through good times and bad. When Jane got sick with kidney disease, he nursed her, cared for her needs, and never left her side, having carried her through seven years of dialysis.
He was blessed to have found love twice. After Jane died, he met and married Pat Jensen in 2004. In the process and late in life, he gained two more children and added another grandchild to the eight he had through his daughter and son-in-law. There was always room at his table for more family and his famous Louisiana recipe waffles. He continued to invent things in his backyard shop and supported Pat in her many creative endeavors. He also took up the banjo, and loved to sing along to country music or TV commercials in his rich baritone voice. After Pat’s death in 2020, he moved to New York where he lived for a year with his stepdaughter before moving into senior care near her home. He continued to work with his many tools for several years.
It was always clear from his actions that family was his highest priority. Though never a wealthy man, the love he shared for others made him one of the richest men in history. He would always give of his time and talent to help.
He died August 22, 2023, in Guilderland, NY, with his stepdaughter Donna holding his hand and under the kind care of the staff at Our Lady of Mercy Life Center, where he was treasured for his wit and charm. He is buried with other veterans at the Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery in Schuylerville, NY.
He is survived by two sons, Kenneth L. Ingham III (Diana) and David Kirk Ingham (both of Albuquerque NM) a daughter, Kathleen Ingham Tailer (Jim) of Crawfordville FL, and grandchildren Bethany Pelts (Daniel), and James, Keandra, Jessica, Nathan, Anna, and Megan, all Tailers. He had six great grandchildren. He will also be greatly missed by his stepchildren Donna Liewer Cohen and Robert Charles Dwigans, both of Delmar NY, and grandson Christopher David Liewer.
Ken is preceded in death by his parents, brother, and grandson Joshua Tailer.
Interment with full military honors will be Friday, September 1, 2023 at 1:00pm at the Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery, 200 Duell Rd. Schuylerville. Relatives and friends should arrive and gather at the cemetery welcome center no later than 12:50.
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