• "It is difficult to believe that it has been a year since..."
    - Michele Clarke
  • "My condolences to your family. I attended high school with..."
    - Todd & Lisa (Odell) Gooding
  • "If you knew Ken you liked him. He was engaging and pleasant..."
    - Joe Grusetski
  • "Although I did not know Ken for very long; the short time..."
    - Monika Doherty
  • "I enjoyed Ken's kind and gentle nature and his seeking of..."
    - Cheri Fix

In Memoriam: Kenneth F. Clarke, 44, Richland, Washington

It was a great pleasure to know and love Kenneth F. Clarke. Ken's energy and passion for the outdoors was inspiring. A dear friend opens with, "Hiking with Ken usually meant catching up with him while he fished the first lake along the trail. Ken only knew one speed -- "all out." He marched friends and family on countless trails and took advantage of weekends and vacation time for numerous solo trips across the globe, his most recent in Ecuador, pictured. Everyone had the pleasure of sharing vicariously in his adventures after the fact through his stories and purposeful photography, especially his slideshow after returning from his climb of Aconcagua.

There's no question that Ken inspired people to go beyond what they thought they were capable of doing. He inspired many to take their own trips and follow his footsteps as the direct result of the path he forged. He was an inspiration to other people; people from his college days or his professional life who will carry with them Ken's enthusiasm and pass it on to others. The ripples from his life continue to spread.

Ken was a beloved Husband where the same passion, enthusiasm and commitment he had in hiking boots, snow-shoes, skis, cycling shoes or while running up and down Badger Mtn. was exchanged in his loving marriage to his wife. He enjoyed wine and dining her in their home or anywhere a quality culinary excursion was available. Cooking together with music cranked typically turned their kitchen into a dance floor followed by a delicious meal. When taking a rest day, he enjoyed classical music, reading novels and challenging himself to be a better person within.

As a "Dog-Father: of two English Springer Spaniels, Ken quickly learned the value and importance of unconditional love. He found great pleasure initiating little exercises to charm the girls in his household and in return was lovingly adored. As a devoted Uncle, he was quickly hailed as the "Master Lego Architect," spending hours building and rebuilding intricate designs repeatedly for his nephews and niece. Last summer, he ignited backpacking interest in his nephews while on what was dubbed, "An Epic Trip!" within the Olympic National Park. As an older Brother, his most sacred friendship was built over the years with each deliberate slow-sipping moment of countless bottles of single malt scotch and conversation. Ken will be missed on our annual trips to Sandpoint, ID, where family would gather to hike Schweitzer, touch the bear paws, hold on for dear life on the tube (as only an Engineer can) and walk the long bridge as a spotter during a morning swim, with a thousand other people.

As was true to form in every other area of his life, Ken demonstrated integrity, professionalism, a precious seriousness, generosity, kindness, thoughtfulness, love and caring for everyone. A dear friend summed up Ken quintessentially in the following sentence: "I keep focusing on all the time he was able to spend doing what he loved. He lived his life -- whether it was enjoying the outdoors, pursuing a career, or loving the people around him, he lived 'all out.' "

A public gathering to toast Ken and reminisce together will be held in March at Kiona Vineyards and Winery, in Benton City. (Date to be announced)

Published in Tri-City Herald on Jan. 31, 2013