Kenneth L. "Kenny" Napier(1932 - 2012)

Kenneth L. 'Kenny' Napier April 17, 1932 - September 28, 2012 Groveland resident Kenneth L. 'Kenny' Napier died September 28th at Avalon Care Center in Sonora, California. He was 80 years old. Kenny was born and raised in Bakersfield, California. He lived in the San Jose-Los Gatos area for more than 40 years before he and his wife Valerie, settled in Groveland eight years ago. He graduated from Bakersfield High School and attended Bakersfield Junior College. He transferred to San Jose State University on a track scholarship and earned a bachelor's degree in 1961. He worked as a facilities manager at the Lockheed Missiles and Space Division in Sunnyvale for 35 years until retirement. Kenny served in the US Navy aboard the USS Bremerton from 1951 to 1953 during the Korean War. He transferred to the Great Lakes, Ill., in 1953 to attend dental technician school. He was honorably discharged from the Navy in 1955 and returned to Bakersfield. He married the "love of his life", Valerie McDonald in 1953 and they were married for 59 1/2 wonderful years. Kenny was happiest when he was with his family - his wife, his children and his grandchildren. He truly was the best husband, father, grandfather and friend, and he showed this to those he loved every day of his life! His other loves included running, fly fishing and the great outdoors. Kenny was a world class runner for much of his life, competing in High School and College. Some of the accomplishments he was most proud of included winning the So. California & Metro Cross Country Championship as a member of the Bakersfield Junior College Cross Country Team in 1956 and also receiving the "most inspirational" award from the team that year. In recent years, he was inducted into the Bakersfield Junior College Hall of fame, for both track and field, and cross country. Another memorable achievement was placing third at the Pacific AAU meet in Stockton, California on June 1, 1957, where Don Bowden became the first American to break the four-minute mile (Kenny's time was 4:15). In 1972, at age 40, he won the San Francisco Examiner Master's Mile at the Cow Palace with a time of 4:37. He was a member of the West Valley Track Club in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and was a long time member of the West Valley Joggers and Striders, where he still has many, many friends. Kenny continued running well into his 70s. Kenny was also an avid fly fisherman and leaves behind many good friends in both the Merced Fly Casters Club and the Mother Lode Fly Casting Club in Sonora, California. Kenny was preceded in death by his mother and stepfather, Lela and Carl "Pop" Davis; his father and stepmother, Rex and Teresa Napier; and his brothers, Don and Gary Napier. He is survived by his wife of 59 1/2 years, Valerie Napier, of Groveland, CA; his daughters, Diane Dell'Armo and her husband, Taum of Carmel, CA, and Colleen Reece of Groveland, CA; his grandchildren, Valerie Taormina, of Oakland, CA, John Dell'Armo and his fiancee, Rosie Hansen, of Santa Maria, CA and Taum "Joe" Dell'Armo and his wife, Sammy, of Denver, CO; his sisters-in-law, Pat Napier and Gail Pedersen, both of Bakersfield, CA; half-siblings, Darlene Corson and Glen Napier, both of Chesapeake, VA; and three nieces and two nephews. Donations can be made to the U.S. Olympic Team, www.support.teamusa.org, or the . A "Celebration of Life" for Kenny will be held later in October. For information, please contact his daughter, Diane Dell'Armo at 831-622-9378 or 831-915-9588. www.bakersfield.com/obits

Published in Bakersfield Californian on Oct. 12, 2012