Kenneth Dee Tollefson
May 28, 1939 – December 25, 2017
Col. Kenneth (Ken) D. Tollefson, USAF, retired, passed away December 25, 2017, at his home, in the presence of his loving family and beloved dog, Kiwi, in San Diego, California. Ken was born in Montello, Nevada on May 28,1939, a member of a pioneering ranching family. His family later moved to Sparks, Nevada where he graduated from Sparks High School and the University of Nevada. He later obtained his Master’s Degree from New Mexico Highlands University.
At the age of 17, Ken enlisted in the Nevada Air National Guard. In 1968, his Guard Unit was activated as a result of the Pueblo Incident. He had a 35 year distinguished military career in the U.S. Air Force during which he was awarded the Bronze Star and, upon his retirement, was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.
Ken’s military career included tours of Vietnam, Germany, and assignments in the United States. He had a major role in experimenting with developing laser technology, the building of the B-1 Stealth bomber, the reactivation of the SR-71 (Blackbird, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft), and, ultimately he oversaw the engineering, from ground up through initial production, of the C-17 Globemaster III for the U.S. Air Force. He also is one of four distinguished students from the 1982 U.S. Air Force Air University Command and Staff College (ACSC) that created the Air Force’s “Gathering of Eagles” that capstones the ACSC curriculum.
In recent years, Ken found great pleasure as a volunteer at The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum on the Marine Corps Aviation Station Miramar. He enjoyed giving tours of the museum, developing educational materials for elementary through college classes, and writing articles about individuals who had served in the military. He was dedicated to preserving the history of the United States Military and the stories of those who had served valiantly.
Ken was an active member of the St. Therese of Carmel Catholic Church where he volunteered as a Minister of Hospitality. In his spare time, he enjoyed traveling. He loved railroad history, as well as, building and designing his own model train layout. Ken was also a master craftsman often creating special gifts for his family and friends.
Ken’s greatest joy was being at home with his family and enjoying cocktails on the patio with his wife, Jacklyne.
He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Jacklyne, his children, Terri, John (Gina), and Kevin (Amy) and grandchildren Eileen, John, Joseph, Catherine, Luke, Jacob, and Claire, his sister Carol Coppola (Ralph); and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Roseline Tollefson, his brother John, and his grandson Samuel.
There will be a Memorial Service for Kenneth on January 5, 2018, at the St. Therese of Carmel Catholic Church, 4355 Del Mar Trails Rd. San Diego, CA 92130. Visitation will be from 9:30-10:30 followed by a Mass at 10:30 A.M. A Military Honor Service will follow in the Grotto of St. Therese of Carmel Catholic Church. A reception in the Dempsey Social Hall at St. Therese of Carmel Catholic Church will be held after the Honor Service.
Burial will be at Miramar National Cemetery in San Diego, California.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you give to the charity of your choice in Kenneth’s name or to his favorite charity, The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Foundation at P.O. Box 45316, San Diego, CA 92145-0316
Arrangements are handled by El Camino Memorial, Sorrento Valley, 5600 Carroll Canyon Road, San Diego CA. 92121.
Friday, January 5, 2018
Kenneth Dee Tollefson
May 22, 2018
I just learned of his passing. I served with Col Tollefson at the C-17 DPRO from 1989 until his retirement. He was an Officer and Commander of the highest caliber. RIP Col T!!
January 9, 2018
I knew Ken as a boy in Nevada. He was a great friend through High School, perhaps my best friend, but then we lost track. I mourn his passing, and I extend my condolences to his family
Ken and I spent many fruitful afternoons in his backyard, playing with miniature model tanks, planes, and military paraphernalia (this was 1952 or so). Often the models would burst into flame as we squirted them with lighter fluid and then lit them up! I like to think I helped prepare Ken for his adventurous life as a Flying Leatherneck.
I have many other memories of Ken, including his bout with rheumatic fever, which manifested during a long hike we took together in the Sparks sagebrush. I also remember the day his dog "Pun" was killed by a car, and his agony over loss of his friend. I guess I am saying that Ken was a great soul, determined, idealistic and always genuine. I miss him.
Boyce Burge, Redwood City CA
January 5, 2018
I offer my condolences to John Tollefson and his family in their time of grief. We the living are left with sorrow at the loved ones passing, but God in His mercy has rewarded Kenneth with ever lasting life in the bosom of the Lord. Take solace that he is basking in God's glory.
Janet Venanzi Lantieri
Tom and Jo Ann Handley
January 3, 2018
To my best friend, Air Force brother and a man for all seasons and accomplishments, there wasn't anything he couldn't do in the best way possible. Ken had so many major accomplishments in his Air Force career there isn't space enough to list them. He was brave, loyal and so mission dedicated. He wa also dedicated to his life long love Jackie and made an art form of rearing their children and grandchildren. He was an outstanding military historian and writer in retirement. He was so very very special. We and countless others will miss him greatly.
January 2, 2018
To my Air Force Brother, Rest In Peace beside our Lord. We have known Ken for almost 40 years. My boss, leader, mentor and friend and a true patriot. A man of the highest character, honor, morals and values. A true family man. Condolences to Jackie, Terry, John and Kevin.
January 2, 2018
We send condolences and prayers for peace. Kenneth was a fine friend and a role model of patriotism, honor and integrity. We pray that his memory be eternal.
Love and Blessings,
Rev Protodeacon & Mrs George Haloulakos