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Kenneth Skjervem

1932 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Kenneth Skjervem Obituary
Kenneth Duane Skjervem

Born January 18th 1932 in Petersburg, North Dakota, Kenneth Duane Skjervem died peacefully surrounded by his family on April 18th at Torrance Memorial Hospital. Ken was the middle child of nine, and was predeceased by his son, Eric, his parents Melvina and Edwin, brother Oris and sisters Elsie, Clarine Agre and Helen Marcks.

Ken grew up on a family farm in the Red River Valley of North Dakota, and attended a rural one-room school from grades 1-8. He had a very special grandpa, Ed Enerson, who called him "Buddy", and would help shape Ken into the very special "Kenpa" he would become some 60 years later. Grandpa Ed stirred young Ken's curiosity which evolved into a lifelong love of learning. Ken graduated from high school in Dahlen, ND in 1950, and attended North Dakota State University (NDSU) in Fargo. Soon after, he was drafted into the U.S. Marine Corps. As a Marine, Ken was stationed in California, Hawaii and Florida, and attended radio school for most of his service until receiving an honorable discharge in 1954. Ken was very proud of his Marine Corps service, and later taught each of his grandchildren the Marine Corps Hymn as soon as they could hum a bar. Ken married his sweetheart, Delores (Dee Dee) Nash on June 20, 1954, and together they moved to West Fargo, ND where Ken completed his B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1958 at NDSU. After graduation, Ken and Dee Dee moved to Torrance, California "the land of palm trees, warm weather and job opportunities". With many wonderful things to recognize throughout a long and rewarding life together, their most frequent toast was "to Southern California".

Ken began his career with North American Aviation in El Segundo, and after a few years was asked to join the company's aerospace division in Downey. Over the next 30 years, Ken worked on some of the country's most important national priorities, including the Apollo program, the Saturn V Command and Service Module, Skylab and space shuttles Enterprise, Columbia, Challenger and Discovery. His broad engineering experience and critical thinking made him an integral member of several technical teams until his retirement in 1989. Years later, Ken and Dee Dee attended the final launch of space shuttle Endeavor in Florida on June 1, 2011. His children, however, will always remember their early 1970s selection as the "typical American family," chosen to escort Soviet engineers to Disneyland, and to this day are still not sure if their Soviet guests were actual aerospace engineers or KGB agents! Ken's grandchildren proudly refer to him as "a rocket scientist," although he and Dee Dee spent much of their adult lives building a real estate investing and development business.

More than anything, Ken loved being a father to John, Karen and Eric. He was patient, kind, gentle and warm-hearted, and always made time to work on school projects or help with homework. Ken and Dee Dee moved to Palos Verdes in 1963, where their children attended public schools and lived in four homes around the Peninsula community over the next 53 years. Ken was active socially with many friends at Ascension Lutheran Church, the Cabrillo Yacht Club and other community groups. He was an avid sailor, and also loved taking his family on month-long adventures each summer, travels that included all 50 United States, dozens of National Parks, several Civil War battlefields, the Alaskan Highway, and countless historic and geological markers.

In addition to being a wonderful husband and father, Ken, a true introvert, loved hiking, birding, classical music, gardening, crossword puzzles, Sudoku and all kinds of neighborhood "adventures" with his grandchildren. His interest in and love of nature started when he read about a waterfall in South America (Angel Falls, at that time little known to the outside world) in a local North Dakota newspaper. Since that initial spark, Ken and Dee Dee traveled the world extensively including trips to all seven continents and experiences beyond his wildest boyhood dreams.

Ken leaves his wife, Dee Dee of nearly 63 years of marriage, his son, John (Marti) of Lake Oswego, OR, his daughter Karen (Patrick) Meezan of Mill Valley, CA, all of whom will miss him every day of their lives. Grandchildren Charles Kenneth (Charlie) & Jonathan James (Jack) Skjervem, Johanna Hope & James Patrick Meezan, his brother Leland, sisters Edna Johnson, Alice Fontaine and Evelyn Peterson of North Dakota, and his brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Ronald & Charlotte Nash of Detroit Lakes, MN, as well as many cousins, nephews and nieces. A celebration of Ken's life will be held at 2pm on Saturday, May 13 at Ascension Lutheran Church 26231 Silver Spur Road in Rancho Palos Verdes. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the or the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Foundation. Sign guestbook at dailybreeze.com
Published in Daily Breeze on May 10, 2017
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