Kenneth N. Prairie

October 3, 1927June 8, 2014

Kenneth Nicklas Prairie, 86, passed away on Sunday, June 8, 2014. Ken was born October 3, 1927, in Ojai, California, to Henry Prairie and Josephine (Solari) Prairie, who were both second generation Californians. Ken’s family was among the founding families in the “gold country” of Mariposa County (Indian Gulch). His family moved to Ventura in 1922 and later to Ojai in 1924 where Ken attended Ojai schools, graduating from Nordhoff High School. Ken was the youngest of three brothers. He was preceded in death by his brothers, Henry Joseph Prairie and Eugene Clarence Prairie and two nephews, David Prairie and Stephen Prairie. Ken is survived by his wife Dorothy A. (Hobart) Prairie; four children, Susan A. Rosario (Tony), Michael W. Prairie (Hiromi), Bonnie P. Ryan (Kevin) and Lucinda G. Garner. He is also survived by eight grandchildren, Brian Rosario, Amy Rosario, Matthew Drummond (Mary), Kathleen Garner, Sara Garner Madrigal (Drew), Jennifer Prairie Bear (Ryan), Bradford Prairie and Alex Prairie; one great grandson, Matthew Shae Drummond; and one nephew, Dennis Prairie (Janice). Ken loved the Ojai Valley. While attending Nordhoff High School he was class president and participated in student government. He was an avid tennis player and participated in “The Ojai” Tennis Tournament several years. Ken loved to watch the Ojai matches during his later years. He attended nearly every Nordhoff High School class reunion. During World War II, Ken served in the Army. Upon his discharge he became a member of the American Veterans Committee (WWII Veterans) and was chairman for two years. Ken was a journeyman printer by trade. He started printing at Nordhoff High School and worked as an apprentice printer at the Ojai Publishing Company owned by Frank and Blanche Kilbourne, who were the publishers of THE OJAI, the weekly newspaper for the Ojai Valley for many years. In 1951, Ken and Bob Andrews (former editor of the Ojai) started a second weekly paper in competition to THE OJAI under the name of the “Ojai Valley News.” Ken later sold his interest in the Ojai Valley News to Bob Andrews. Ken worked at newspapers in Ojai, for the Santa Paula Chronicle, the Ventura County News, the Santa Barbara News Press and the Ventura Star Free Press. He has always been active in politics and has participated in many local public interest projects and activities. In 1950, Ojai Mayor, Fred Linder, appointed Ken to the Ojai Planning Commission. During that time the planning commission worked on devising the first planning Committee ordinance by the City of Ojai. Ken was elected to the Ojai City Council in 1952. He served as mayor of Ojai during his tenure. In 1956 he did not seek re-election as he and his family moved to Santa Paula. During his service on the City Council, the council passed new planning ordinances, restructured the Ojai Police Department and City Maintenance Departments and was instrumental in the annexation of the “Y,” and the property on which Nordhoff high school is now located. Ken was a lifetime member of the Ojai Art Center, joining in 1953. He was the Chairman of the Board from 1954-1957, succeeding Charles T. Butler, the founder of the Ojai Art Center. The Prairie family moved to Santa Paula in 1956 where all of their children attended St. Sebastian School. Ken traveled in his work but was always home for the weekend activities and Sunday 11 o’clock Mass. Most weekends there were family trips to visit all the grandparents in Ojai. Ken loved family and most of all “visiting.” Ken kept in contact with each and every relative and many friends over the years by phone and by text. No birthday or special event went without a phone call or message from him. He was a caring and thoughtful man! In 1970, after all their children had completed high school, Ken and Dorothy moved to Ventura. After the move, Ken’s activities were primarily focused on union affairs, his political work and the grandkids. Ken was very active in union affairs. He received a special International Union Assignment to Los Angeles in 1960 and a year later was appointed as a permanent International Representative of the International Typographical Union. Ken has worked as a Union Representative for over 50 years. Ken was the President of the Ventura Typographical Union from 1956-1960. As an International Representative, Ken established organizational campaigns for the Southern California Unions, as well as handling internal union affairs. During his service with the Union he worked throughout the United States, most often in the western and southwestern states, California, Nevada and Hawaii. He was a delegate to the San Francisco International Convention, representing the Ventura Typographical Union in 1958, on the Laws Committee at the International Convention in Dallas Texas, and was the Chairman of the First Legislative Committee for the Union in Denver, Colorado in 1960. Ken attended more than 50 International Conventions as staff or as a delegate. Ken was a special delegate from the Union to the Los Angeles County Labor Council. He was elected as a vice president to the Executive Board representing the newspaper and printing trades and the Communication Workers of America. Ken retained that position as well as being a Delegate to the Tri Counties Labor Council until his death. He was a member of the American Legion, active in the Lions Club International from 1948-2014 and in the International Typographical Union (1948-1987) and the Communication Workers ITU/CWA of America (1987-2014). Ken continued working until his death on June 8, 2014. He was a truly dedicated and a loyal supporter of the Union. The family wishes to thank Dr. Thomas Q. Kong, Jr., Dr. Cedric B. Emery, Dr. Stephen Covington and Dr. Kevin Chang for their special care of Ken. The Prairie family is grateful for the services of Livingston Hospice Nurse, Tamara, and Care Givers, Ivan and Stacy, for their commitment to Ken’s care. Visitation to be held at Ted Mayr Funeral Home, 3150 Loma Vista Road, Ventura on Sunday, June 15, 2014, from 3:00 until 4:00 P.M. with a vigil service beginning at 4:00 P.M. Funeral Mass will be held at the San Buenaventura Mission, 211 E. Main St, Ventura on Monday, June 16, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. with interment to follow at Ivy Lawn Cemetery. Arrangements are under the direction of the Ted Mayr Funeral Home. Condolences may be left at


  • Visitation Sunday, June 15, 2014
  • Prayer Vigil Sunday, June 15, 2014
  • Mass of Christian Burial Monday, June 16, 2014

Kenneth N. Prairie

have a memory or condolence to add?


July 18, 2014

I first met Ken in Bakersfield, CA when I was 14 years old. At that time my dad was president of the Bakersfield Typographical Union and a good friend of Ken's. Ken referred to dad and himself as the young Turks. I joined the Typographical Union in 1969 and met Ken many times while working in San Francisco and in Lodi, CA. It was a shock to hear of his passing. A great union man who will be missed by many.
Mike Fowler (Lodi, CA)

Jimmy Emerson

June 22, 2014

I met Ken a few years ago, he was a true gentleman and friend. He would visit my show and bring friends and offer support. His smile was sincere. He will be missed

Steve Covington

June 22, 2014

Ken was a wonderful man and a role model to all who had the privilege to interact with him. He had admirable dedication to his work and his family. We will miss his ever present smile. Steve Covington

Betty Shipe

June 17, 2014

Dorothy, Ken will be greatly missed. He was one of my historians for everything Printing Sector at CWA.

Charles Both

June 17, 2014

Sadly, I just learned of Ken's passing today. He was an incredible union leader/activist and i treasure the many years I was lucky to have been associated with him during his leadership in the ITU and as the head of the OPEIU Local that represented ITU/CWA Printing Division Staff. He will be long held in my thoughts.

Charles R. Both

Debbie Suggs - Beaver

June 17, 2014

Our deepest sympathy to the Prairie family, Ken was always such a wonderful and kind man, a wonderful family man and a great neighbor,he will be missed greatly by many, you will always have cherished memories of him, we all will. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, we love you all. The Suggs family.

Glenn Williams

June 16, 2014

We were close neighbors of the family many years ago (early '30s on Signal) and have much respect for them. So sorry to hear of Ken's passing. Saw him last at the Nordhoffians last year. He told me of Gene's passing at that time.
Glenn Williams

June 16, 2014

My condolences to the family of Ken Prairie. After so many years of helping others, this wonderful man is gone. Ken was a staunch supporter of the members of Bay Area Typographical Union #21, always striving to improve our working conditions. He was a good friend and will be missed.
Charlie Tobias, retired president

Gloria La Riva

June 16, 2014

My deepest sympathy for Dorothy and family. Ken was a wonderful and kind man whom I had the pleasure and honor of working directly with, from 2002 on, in the Bay Area, where he was our International Representative. But I knew him for years before that, when I was a rank-and-file member and knew him from many Union meetings. There was no one who knew negotiations better than Ken, he was a master at them. And he never lost his cool no matter how difficult the situation. Ken gave us endless guidance and counsel in order to help our Union sisters and brothers. He had so much patience. I really enjoyed when he used to talk about his family, how much he loved his weekends with his family, just to be together and enjoy each other's company. He had a rich and fulfilling life and never thought of ever retiring from working to help as many people as he could. He was truly an honorable man.
I will miss him so much. You are all so blessed to have him as your husband, father, grandfather, friend and so much more.

Phil Riege

June 15, 2014

To all the Prairie family, please accept my deepest sympathy. I had the pleasure of seeing and briefly speaking with Ken on two occasions in recent years. Although I lost touch with all of you after the Santa Paula years I have many good memories of the years passed going back to the days at St. Sebastion and think of you all often. It was plain to see then, even as I recall it now, that you were a loving and caring family and that Ken was a rock that you could count on. Many of us should take a lesson from his time spent here.
Respectfully to Dorothy, Susan, Micheal, Bonnie and Cindy.