OBITUARY

Kenneth Myron Van Patten

December 21, 1927March 21, 2021

Kenneth M. Van Patten was born in 1927 in Litchfield, MI, where he grew up hunting and fishing, as well as working on his family’s 100-acre farm. He entered the U.S. Army after graduating high school and served in the 11th Airborne as a Paratrooper. He was part of the Occupational Force in Japan at the close of World War II with the 11th Parachute Maintenance Company.

After discharge from the Army, he attended Michigan State College and received a bachelor’s degree in Dairy Manufacturing/Science with minors in bacteriology and chemistry in 1951. He worked at Heatherwood Dairy in college and after graduation. In 1956, he was hired by the Michigan Department of Agriculture as the Supervisor for Dairy Product Grading and Testing. He traveled extensively throughout the state and enjoyed working with farmers and small processing plants. In 1966, he became the Chief of the Dairy Division and in 1977, he was named as the project leader for the newly created PBB Unit. He retired as the Deputy Director for the Department of Agriculture in 1984.

While in college, he met his future wife Carol on a blind date. Their marriage lasted 68 years until Carol’s passing in 2018. The young couple settled in Williamston on an 80-acre farm. Much to Carol’s dismay, the farm purchase was focused more on the land and not necessarily the condition of the house and the availability of indoor plumbing. The couple fixed up the house over the years, and made it into a loving home and a wonderful place to raise their 5 daughters. Eventually, Ken was able to have his own bathroom that he didn’t have to share with all the women in the house.

With 5 daughters on the farm, there was no such thing as men’s work and women’s work. In Ken’s mind, it was just work, and it needed to be done. Through the life lessons taught on the farm, he instilled a solid Christian foundation, confidence, a strong work ethic, and discipline in his daughters. It was important to Ken that they could be self-reliant so as to not take advantage of others. He taught them basic mechanical skills, how to hunt, fish, enjoy the simple things in life and how to manage the money they earned on the farm. Road trips, camping, occasional splurges at the local Dairy Queen, and social visits with neighbors all resulted in a family with a very close bond.

Ken lived his dream as he added acreage to his farm, raised beef cattle, cash crops and cultivated wildlife habitat. Ken had a deep and meaningful appreciation of wildlife, trees, the out of doors and wide-open spaces. He was passionate about seeing it preserved for future generations and eventually put his land under a conservation easement to protect it from development. He always smelled like the woods and enjoyed the quiet solitude of a walk on his property to see the fruits of his labor grow and develop under his care.

He planted thousands upon thousands of trees in his lifetime. Every tree that happened to sprout in the way of the lawn mower got a free pass and was carefully moved to a better location so that it would have a chance to flourish. He enjoyed cutting firewood and it would be difficult to estimate how many cords he cut over his lifetime. Even into his 80’s he would still hand split wood because it was such good exercise.

Ken was perhaps best known in the community for Van Patten Pines Christmas Trees. He started planting Scotch Pine seedlings in 1955, with sales beginning in 1960. A visit to Van Patten Pines to choose a tree became an annual tradition for many families near and far. The sight of Ken on the old John Deere Tractor with the distinctive “putt-putt” sound cresting the hill from the woods with a wagon heaped with trees brought a smile to many faces. Ken continued to be active in the business until he officially retired from it 2007.

Ken was a faithful servant at The Vantown Community Church for over 70 years and was an important part of its history. He helped with the construction of the building in the late 1950’s, served in numerous leadership positions, participated in and taught bible studies and Sunday School. In later years, he was known as the Chief Dishwasher during community Swiss Steak dinners held at the church. No one could match his ability to stand at the sink all those hours. He graciously offered up his farm for special church outings such as hay rides, campfire nights and Easter Egg hunts. He was a quiet man about his faith, but was deeply committed to his walk with Christ. His service to his church and community showed those values and commitment.

Ken was a good athlete, and over the years played alumni basketball with a group from Dansville as well as in a church softball league. He enjoyed woodworking and gifted many people with one of his beautiful cutting boards. He liked western themed books, John Wayne movies, mowing lawn, spending time in the UP, square dancing, German sweet chocolate cake, tractor rides with the grandkids, fishing with the grandkids, trees, trees and more trees, gospel and bluegrass music, his hunting property near Rose City, marigolds, and coupons from Burger King. He hated to see food go to waste and was known to eat an entire apple – core and all, and then hand someone back the stem with a grin.

He had a soft spot for any animal that showed up on the front porch looking for a free meal and was called upon at times by family to rescue critters in distress. He was always firm about having no pets in the home. However, later in life, family members were shocked to walk in and see a cat lounging on the kitchen table like she owned the place and Ken with a big smile on his face. He was known to enlist family help in the fall to pick up bags and bags of black walnuts from under the trees in the yard to take back in the woods to feed the squirrels in the winter. He also kept the local turkey flock happy by providing a corn kernel buffet during times of deep snow.

Ken was a member of the “greatest generation” and truly embodied everything the phrase brings to mind. He was widely known as a hard dedicated worker and would gladly drop everything to lend a helping hand to anyone in need. He frequently volunteered to do things that no one else wanted to do. He was trustworthy, humble, loyal, quiet and contemplative, practical, made due with what he had, a good mediator and dedicated to providing for and supporting his family. He was so well thought of, that several of his friends named one of their own children after him. Many people have come forward over the years to say that he had such a positive effect on them that they viewed him as they would their own father or grandfather. He will be greatly missed.

Jesus welcomed him into Heaven, along with his parents Iva and John, brother John D. and sister Dallyce. He is survived by daughters Gail (Steve) Houser, Laurie Van Patten, Kathy Van Patten (Mike Gurecki), Christi (Dan) Palmer and Shannon (Steve) Martin. Grandchildren Michelle, Dan, RJ, Brian, Niki, Devan, Ethan, and Katie. Great-grandchildren Bryce, Emma, Luke, Abbey, Alaina, Gabe, Neil, Hunter, Sarah, Henley and baby on the way. Brother Russel (Sharon) Van Patten; sister-in-law Diana Webster and lastly…his ever-faithful lap warmer, Charlie the cat.

The family wishes to extend their sincere thanks to the staff at Sparrow Hospice for your care and thoughtfulness.

An outdoor gathering in Ken’s honor will be held to visit and reminisce with family and friends. This will take place on April 17, 2021 at the Vantown Community Church, 3504 East Howell Road Webberville, MI 48892. Come at any time between 1:30 – 4:00. Denim, flannel, and farm hats welcome!

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Vantown Community Church (address above) or the Michigan Nature Association 2310 Science Parkway, Suite 100 Okemos, MI 48864-2525 or on their website at www.michigannature.org

  • DONATIONS

  • Vantown Community Church
  • Michigan Nature Association

Services

17 April

Gathering

1:30 pm - 4:00 pm

Vantown Community Church

3504 E Howell Rd
Webberville, Michigan

Memories

Kenneth Myron Van Patten

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Marty Waugh

March 30, 2021

Gail, Laurie, Kathy, Christy, and Shannon, what a lovely tribute. I’ve known your family since we were in elementary school and I would be hard pressed to think of a more honorable man. He was so kind and wise and cheerful! I’ll sure miss seeing him at Vantown. Love and prayers to you all.

Kevin Chelf

March 28, 2021

It's been a great honor to have known Ken my entire life. In a world where integrity seems to have diminished he showed us all how to get it right! My loving thoughts to the famiy.

Jane Newman

March 24, 2021

I have such fond memories of both of your parents and all of you...dinners together, camping, yearly trips to the farm for Christmas trees and sharing the taffy my family always pulled at Thanksgiving. My last visit to the farm was time spent with your folks in the beautiful new house they’d built on the pond. I loved when they’d pop in at the log house on their trips to Big Rapids.

The years do change things. We moved into an independent apartment in a staged senior community last June. It was a timely move.

While my heart hurts with yours it’s also filled with joyful memories. I am ever grateful for your folks many kindnesses.

Sending Loads of Love, Hugs & Prayers Your way!

Jane Newman Pepper
3604 Fulton St E, GAE 334, Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Tony Soave

March 24, 2021

Shannon, your father was a hero for his service and there’s much to be proud of him for. I wish I could have met and sat down with him and heard some of his stories. You guys are in our prayers 🙏🏻

Karen Sigman

March 24, 2021

Shannon, so sorry to hear of your dad's passing. He obviously led a wonderful life surrounded by everything and everyone he dearly loved. I can see where you get your love for critters and nature :-) Also happy to hear dad shared time with Charlie the cat. Surprise, surprise. Wonder how he's going to explain that one to your mom? May all your happy memories replace any tears of sorrow. What a wonderful life to be celebrated!!

Emil Herzog

March 23, 2021

We loved both Carol and Ken! Our heart and prayers go out to the family.

Maxine Herzog
Emil & Joy Herzog

Sandy Maxson

March 23, 2021

My name is Sandy (Ferry) Maxson. I am Al & Kay Ferry's youngest daughter.
I wish I really had more memories to share, but I just want to say what a beautifully written obituary. I am so glad that it was shared with me. The obituary made me think of my Uncle Harold (Ferry).
John's sister Mildred VanPatten married Clarence Ferry, so it is natural for us to belong to the Ferry Family, without remembering that we are from the VanPatten Family as well. The things you shared about Ken, were so true of my Uncle Harold, as well as true for my dad. What an honor that my dad was given the VanPatten name (as his middle name) to carry on Alton VanPatten Ferry.
Thank you so much for sharing details and helping those of us a little farther removed, share in Ken's life. Prayers to your entire family in your loss, until you all meet again!

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Biography

Kenneth M. Van Patten was born in 1927 in Litchfield, MI, where he grew up hunting and fishing, as well as working on his family’s 100-acre farm. He entered the U.S. Army after graduating high school and served in the 11th Airborne as a Paratrooper. He was part of the Occupational Force in Japan at the close of World War II with the 11th Parachute Maintenance Company.


After discharge from the Army, he attended Michigan State College and received a bachelor’s degree in Dairy Manufacturing/Science with minors in bacteriology and chemistry in 1951. He worked at Heatherwood Dairy in college and after graduation. In 1956, he was hired by the Michigan Department of Agriculture as the Supervisor for Dairy Product Grading and Testing. He traveled extensively throughout the state and enjoyed working with farmers and small processing plants. In 1966, he became the Chief of the Dairy Division and in 1977, he was named as the project leader for the newly created PBB Unit. He retired as the Deputy Director for the Department of Agriculture in 1984.


While in college, he met his future wife Carol on a blind date. Their marriage lasted 68 years until Carol’s passing in 2018. The young couple settled in Williamston on an 80-acre farm. Much to Carol’s dismay, the farm purchase was focused more on the land and not necessarily the condition of the house and the availability of indoor plumbing. The couple fixed up the house over the years, and made it into a loving home and a wonderful place to raise their 5 daughters. Eventually, Ken was able to have his own bathroom that he didn’t have to share with all the women in the house.


With 5 daughters on the farm, there was no such thing as men’s work and women’s work. In Ken’s mind, it was just work, and it needed to be done. Through the life lessons taught on the farm, he instilled a solid Christian foundation, confidence, a strong work ethic, and discipline in his daughters. It was important to Ken that they could be self-reliant so as to not take advantage of others. He taught them basic mechanical skills, how to hunt, fish, enjoy the simple things in life and how to manage the money they earned on the farm. Road trips, camping, occasional splurges at the local Dairy Queen, and social visits with neighbors all resulted in a family with a very close bond.


Ken lived his dream as he added acreage to his farm, raised beef cattle, cash crops and cultivated wildlife habitat. Ken had a deep and meaningful appreciation of wildlife, trees, the out of doors and wide-open spaces. He was passionate about seeing it preserved for future generations and eventually put his land under a conservation easement to protect it from development. He always smelled like the woods and enjoyed the quiet solitude of a walk on his property to see the fruits of his labor grow and develop under his care.


He planted thousands upon thousands of trees in his lifetime. Every tree that happened to sprout in the way of the lawn mower got a free pass and was carefully moved to a better location so that it would have a chance to flourish. He enjoyed cutting firewood and it would be difficult to estimate how many cords he cut over his lifetime. Even into his 80’s he would still hand split wood because it was such good exercise.


Ken was perhaps best known in the community for Van Patten Pines Christmas Trees. He started planting Scotch Pine seedlings in 1955, with sales beginning in 1960. A visit to Van Patten Pines to choose a tree became an annual tradition for many families near and far. The sight of Ken on the old John Deere Tractor with the distinctive “putt-putt” sound cresting the hill from the woods with a wagon heaped with trees brought a smile to many faces. Ken continued to be active in the business until he officially retired from it 2007.


Ken was a faithful servant at The Vantown Community Church for over 70 years and was an important part of its history. He helped with the construction of the building in the late 1950’s, served in numerous leadership positions, participated in and taught bible studies and Sunday School. In later years, he was known as the Chief Dishwasher during community Swiss Steak dinners held at the church. No one could match his ability to stand at the sink all those hours. He graciously offered up his farm for special church outings such as hay rides, campfire nights and Easter Egg hunts. He was a quiet man about his faith, but was deeply committed to his walk with Christ. His service to his church and community showed those values and commitment.


Ken was a good athlete, and over the years played alumni basketball with a group from Dansville as well as in a church softball league. He enjoyed woodworking and gifted many people with one of his beautiful cutting boards. He liked western themed books, John Wayne movies, mowing lawn, spending time in the UP, square dancing, German sweet chocolate cake, tractor rides with the grandkids, fishing with the grandkids, trees, trees and more trees, gospel and bluegrass music, his hunting property near Rose City, marigolds, and coupons from Burger King. He hated to see food go to waste and was known to eat an entire apple – core and all, and then hand someone back the stem with a grin.


He had a soft spot for any animal that showed up on the front porch looking for a free meal and was called upon at times by family to rescue critters in distress. He was always firm about having no pets in the home. However, later in life, family members were shocked to walk in and see a cat lounging on the kitchen table like she owned the place and Ken with a big smile on his face. He was known to enlist family help in the fall to pick up bags and bags of black walnuts from under the trees in the yard to take back in the woods to feed the squirrels in the winter. He also kept the local turkey flock happy by providing a corn kernel buffet during times of deep snow.


Ken was a member of the “greatest generation” and truly embodied everything the phrase brings to mind. He was widely known as a hard dedicated worker and would gladly drop everything to lend a helping hand to anyone in need. He frequently volunteered to do things that no one else wanted to do. He was trustworthy, humble, loyal, quiet and contemplative, practical, made due with what he had, a good mediator and dedicated to providing for and supporting his family. He was so well thought of, that several of his friends named one of their own children after him. Many people have come forward over the years to say that he had such a positive effect on them that they viewed him as they would their own father or grandfather. He will be greatly missed.