Kenneth Ray Frandsen was born on July 31, 1921 in Seattle. His parents, Frank and Mathilde, had moved to South Seattle a few years prior from North Dakota, where their parents had settled after emigrating from Denmark in the 1880s.
Like most members of Ken’s generation, everyone was expected to work hard and support the family in order to survive the Great Depression, especially after Ken’s father lost his job with Seattle City Light in 1930. However, schooling was still important and Ken excelled in sports, graduating from Franklin High School in 1939.
Ken went to work at Seattle’s Todd Shipyard as a welder. In the fall of 1941, Ken went on a blind date with a young redheaded Irish girl, Josephine Walsh, who had recently moved from Roslyn, Wash., to attend business school. It was love at first sight, and wedding bells soon rang. The couple wed on Ken’s 21st birthday in 1942. Ken was still employed with Todd Shipyards and Josephine was now working as a bookkeeper for a small local trucking company. WWII soon changed all that. Ken shipped out for the Pacific as an electrician’s mate aboard the Attack Troopship USS Zeilin (APA-3) while their first son, Jan, was on the way.
On Jan. 13, 1945, Zeilin arrived off San Fabian, Luzon, in the Philippines. Zeilin was attacked by a Japanese kamikaze aircraft. The Japanese aircraft struck cargo loading equipment next to the No. 6 cargo hatch. The fuselage crashed into the starboard side of the bridge. Incendiary weapons carried by the aircraft exploded, causing extensive damage and fatalities. Luckily, Ken was topside heading to the mess for a snack at the opposite end of the ship when the plane struck.
Ken returned safely from the war later in 1945. Their second son, Paul, was born in 1946. For a while, Josephine remained home caring for their children, but when Paul needed special shoes that the couple could not afford Josephine returned to work, taking a bookkeeping job with a local trucking company, Garfield Transfer. Two daughters followed: M’Liss and Erin.
In 1947, Ken was hired by the Seattle Police Department and enjoyed a 25-year career as a police officer, nightly patrolling the then tough Seattle waterfront and later in Georgetown. More importantly, he supported Josephine and her trucking career, by working the graveyard shift so he could come home and take care of their children when Josephine departed for work. Ken was “Mr. Mom” decades before it was fashionable.
Ken and Josephine worked hard learning the ins and outs of the trucking and warehousing business. Josephine eventually became the office manager and when the owner’s family decided to sell their business in the 1960s, Ken and Josephine stepped forward. In the 1970s, under Josephine’s guidance, Garfield Truck Lines and its subsidiaries became one of the largest independent trucking and warehouse distributing companies in the Pacific Northwest, eventually building a 300,000-square-foot distribution center in Renton.
Ken retired from the Seattle Police Department in 1971, and again, this time with Josephine, in 1985, when they sold Garfield Truck Lines.
In 1989, Ken built their retirement home at Bush Point overlooking Admiralty Inlet on Whidbey Island. Over the next 20 years, Josephine and Ken enjoyed their family, travel, golf, gardening and watching passing ships and glorious sunsets from their deck and family room. Ken was a longtime member of the Washington Athletic Club, Useless Bay County Club and Rotary International.
In 2009, Ken faced one of his greatest challenges. Josephine was diagnosed with rapidly advancing Alzheimer’s disease. The couple opted to leave their Bush Point home and move into a nearby assisted living facility in Freeland. There, Ken spent the next two-and-a-half years tenderly caring for his dying wife. Josephine passed away on St. Patrick’s Day, 2011.
Over the next seven years, Ken continued to enjoy attending his various reunions, visits from friends and family, and dining out weekly at local restaurants.
Ken passed away surrounded by family near midnight on Jan. 24, 2018.
Kenneth Ray Frandsen is survived by his four children and their spouses: Jan and Rebecca Frandsen, of Renton, Wash., Paul and Cheryl Frandsen, of Riverside, Calif., M’Liss Rae and Michael Hawley, of Freeland, Wash., and Erin and Allen Vautier, of Mukilteo, Wash., as well as numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A graveside service will be held at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 4 at Sunnyside Cemetery in Coupeville, Wash., where Ken will be buried next to his beloved Josephine.