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Kenneth W. Prescott

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Kenneth W. Prescott Obituary
Kenneth W. Prescott Kenneth W. Prescott, age 93, died peacefully at CHRISTUS, Sister Mary Hospice Center, on August 20, surrounded by family. He and his wife made Austin/San Antonio their home since 1974. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Emma-Stina Prescott, and two daughters: Kristina Bassett with husband Peter and their three children, Daniel Fanaberia with wife Erin, Christopher Fanaberia, and Lisen Bassett - of Canada and USA; and Dr. Gertrude Prescott and her three children, Elise, Emma and Erik Nuding - of London, England. Ken was a devoted husband, father and grandfather and deeply loved in return. He was born on August 9, 1920, in Jackson, Michigan, to Edward and Harriett Prescott. His ancestors are well known from the early history of our country. Dr. Samuel Prescott was the only one who made it to Concord, after Paul Revere was caught by the English, and William Prescott is considered by some historians to be the one in charge at Bunker Hill. Ken graduated with a B.A. degree from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and joined the US Navy, following the attack on Pearl Harbor. He served as CO of PT's 61 and 48 in the South Pacific, and for his second tour as XO on USS Jamestown, until the war ended. He signed up for the Korean War and was land based at Bainbridge, MD, returning to civilian life in 1954. While at Bainbridge, he acquired a M.Ed. degree from the University of Delaware. In the years that followed, he was recalled for temporary duty on many occasions and retired in 1966 as Captain, USNR. While in the South Pacific, Ken had collected birds from the many islands he visited on patrols, one of which was new to science. Prepared as scientific specimen, they were shipped to the Department of Ornithology at the University of Michigan, where he took up his graduate studies after the end of WWII, acquiring a M.A and a Ph.D. in Zoology with a specialty in Ornithology. It was in Ann Arbor that he met and married Emma-Stina Johnsson, who was visiting from Stockholm, Sweden. Ken's civilian career included directorship of three museums, Kansas City Museum, The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, and The New Jersey State Museum. While in Kansas City, he served as a consultant to former President Truman in relation to the Truman Library. In Philadelphia, he appreciated the challenge as Adjunct Professor at Temple University. He arranged and curated many exhibitions in this country and abroad, notably two major Ben Shahn exhibitions to Japan. The Ford Motor Co. sought his advice in regards to Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum, and later on, he administered a special grant program in the visual arts for the Ford Foundation. In 1976, he was a member of a panel on Visual Art at the Vatican, which, at its conclusion, was addressed by Pope Paul VI. Ken's last position was as Chairman of the Art Department at the University of Texas at Austin, which featured a good Studio Art program. He expanded the teaching of the History of Art and, in cooperation with an inspiring young faculty, introduced a Ph.D. program in Art History. He published in the fields of Ornithology and the Visual Arts. Throughout his career, Ken served on professional and community boards, where he felt he could make a contribution. On a light note, he remembered with fondness the "Famous Austinites" program at The Headliners Club in Austin, which he helped get started, and his membership in the Wednesday Club in San Antonio. His interest in what is now the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg was deep and lasting from the first time their representatives sought his advice in Austin. He served on the board of the Admiral Nimitz Foundation as long as his health allowed. Kenneth W. Prescott will be interred with military honors at Fort Sam Houston in a private ceremony.

Published in Austin American-Statesman on Sept. 1, 2013
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