Ken Fuson
1956 - 2020
Ken Fuson

Ken Fuson, born June 23, 1956, died Jan. 3, 2020 in at Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, of liver cirrhosis, and is stunned to learn that the world is somehow able to go on without him.

Ken grew up in Granger, and decided when he was a sophomore at Woodward-Granger High School that he wanted to be a newspaper reporter. He covered sports for the Woodward Enterprise before leaving for the University of Missouri-Columbia.

He attended the university's famous School of Journalism, which is a clever way of saying, "almost graduated but didn't." Facing a choice between covering a story for the Columbia Daily Tribune or taking his final exams, Ken went for the story. He never claimed to be smart, just committed.

In 1981, Ken landed his dream job, working as a reporter for The Des Moines Register, where he was probably best known for writing a one-paragraph, one-sentence weather story that has been reprinted in four books.

In 1996, Ken took the principled stand of leaving the Register because The Sun in Baltimore offered him more money. Three years later, having blown most of that money at Pimlico Race Track, he returned to the Register, where he remained until 2008.

In his newspaper work, Ken won several national feature-writing awards, including the Ernie Pyle Award, ASNE Distinguished Writing Award, National Headliner Award, Missouri Award (twice) and Distinguished Writing Award in the Best of Gannett contest (five times, but who's counting?). No, he didn't win a Pulitzer Prize, but he's dead now, so get off his back.

There are those who would suggest that becoming a free-lance writer in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression was not a wise choice, but Ken was never one to be guided by wisdom. He wrote the book, "Heading for Home" with Kent Stock, about the 1991 Norway baseball team that won the state championship in its final season. Good copies still available.

In 2011, Ken accepted a job in the marketing department at Simpson College, where he remained until 2018. He enjoyed it very much, but once again forgot an important lesson: Always have a Plan B.

He was diagnosed with liver disease at the beginning of 2019, which is pretty ironic given how little he drank. Eat your fruits and vegetables, kids.

He is survived by his sons, Jesse and Max, and his stepson, Jared Reese, who all brought Ken unsurpassed joy. He hopes they will forgive him for not making the point more often. He loved his boys and was (and is) extraordinarily proud to be their father.

For most of his life, Ken suffered from a compulsive gambling addiction that nearly destroyed him. But his church friends, and the loving people at Gamblers Anonymous, never gave up on him. Ken last placed a bet on Sept. 5, 2009. He died clean. He hopes that anyone who needs help will seek it, which is hard, and accept it, which is even harder. Miracles abound.

Ken's pastor says God can work miracles for you and through you. Skepticism may be cool, and for too many years Ken embraced it, but it was faith in Jesus Christ that transformed his life. That was the one thing he never regretted. It changed everything.

For many years Ken was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Indianola and sang in the choir, which was a neat trick considering he couldn't read a note of music. The choir members will never know how much they helped him. He then joined Lutheran Church of Hope. If you want to know what God's love feels like, just walk in those doors. Seriously, right now. We'll wait. Ken's not going anywhere.

Ken had many character flaws - if he still owes you money, he's sorry, sincerely - but he liked to think that he had a good sense of humor and a deep compassion for others. He prided himself on letting other drivers cut in line. He would give you the shirt off his back, even with the ever-present food stain. Thank goodness nobody asked. It wouldn't have been pretty. He also was a master Jumbles solver.

Other survivors: his father, Don Fuson. Brother: Joe. A niece and two nephews.

In lieu of flowers, Ken asked that everyone wear black armbands and wail in public during a one-year grieving period. If that doesn't work, how about donating a book to the public libraries in Granger or Indianola?

Yes, this obituary is probably too long. Ken always wrote too long.

God is good. Embrace every moment, even the bad ones. See you in heaven. Ken promises to let you cut in line.

Memorial services will be Saturday, Jan. 11, at Lutheran Church of Hope, 925 Jordan Creek Parkway, West Des Moines.

Published by the Des Moines Register from Jan. 8 to Jan. 9, 2020.
To plant trees in memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.
Memorial service
Lutheran Church of Hope
925 Jordan Creek Parkway, West Des Moines, IA
Sponsored by the Des Moines Register.
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125 Entries
Hard to think I will never see that smile again. Rereading this obituary reminds me of what a great writer he was, and a greater man.
Elizabeth Hendrix
January 2, 2021
Great man! We didnt know he was so well versed! May he open the gates for us when we come knocking on heavens gate! See ya then pal! Chris & Matt
Chris &
March 3, 2020
My sympathies to all who knew and loved him.
Ken was a great writer and sounds like he was a good man. This obituary is clever and has important life lessons. Thank you, Ken.
January 21, 2020
Enjoyed reading Ken's articles in the Northwest Iowa Review! My sympathies to his family!
Leah Rohwer
January 19, 2020
He seems like someone I'd have liked to had a beer with. Much like the late Tim Russert.

Sorry you left so soon but I suspect you ended up in the good place.

January 17, 2020
We should all aspire to have an obituary like Ken's. Godspeed, Ken!
Allison Fonseca
January 16, 2020
Sorry for your loss. Sounds like a great guy. And a great writer.
January 16, 2020
Bless you. You sound like one amazing man! God sure is going to gets some laughs from you now. Prayers for your family.
Danielle Zwissler
January 16, 2020
We should all have known Ken Fuson. I'm sure he is greatly missed by his family and friends, but now his humor and cleverness will live on.
Tammy Garner
January 16, 2020
I'm a United Methodist pastor in Ridgefield, Washington. I read part of Ken's obituary in my sermon last Sunday, and I read his one-paragraph, one-sentence story about the weather in full. Thank you for sharing your craft and your delight in the observation of the human spirit.
Meredith Gudger-Raines
January 15, 2020
I love Ken. And I didn't even know him. God rest his llines-over-the-inch-count soul.
January 15, 2020
This was one of the funniest obituary's we've ever read! Ken would be shocked to know that it has been seen in China, Borneo, Singapore & South Korea to name a few. My friend's & I want to send our deepest condolences to his family & friend's.
Carolyn Richardson
January 14, 2020
Praying for you, Ken. God bless, and Godspeed.
Dcn Bob Connor
January 14, 2020
RIP, Ken. Cheers to your honesty, humility and humor. Seldom does an obituary make me laugh out loud. Wish we would have met and spun some tales. Prayers to the family.
Craig Larson
January 14, 2020
Ken, loved your obituary. We connected when my son, LCpl.Jess Horsley was sending me his journal entries from Iraq at the beginning of our Iraqi war invasion.(unfortunately we are STILL THERE)
The Register - with your great insight - published them. You lived a good, but too short life on earth. Enjoy the After Life...n keep an eye on us, please? With you helping God we will be better off, right?
You are already missed.
Maureen Horsley
January 13, 2020
Thank you for the lovely obit/remembrance. I never met you, but I'm sure I would have liked to know you. I hope I will be remembered as kindly.
Bill Duensing
January 13, 2020
Would send a book in your honor if i know what address to send it to.
January 12, 2020
Ken, your obituary went viral, and brought a smile to a lot of people who never knew you. That stories of you are being told by people who didn't even know you after you are gone is the closest thing to immortality there is.

Thank you. The world could use more of this.
Nick Butler
January 12, 2020
His obituary makes me regret that I did not know him.
Wayne J
January 12, 2020
Wow! What a wonderful way to write your own obituary. I look forward to seeing you in Heaven.
Karla Shepperd
January 12, 2020
I didn't know your Dad but I read obits in 5 newspapers daily. Your Dad's will be in my top 5! Such a great human who didn't lie or make up stories but steadfastly put in all his troubles and over came them. Beyond sadness know he has touched the hearts of many of his country persons. May you have peace
Gail Metcalfe
January 12, 2020
Mr. Fuson,

I didn't know you (my great loss), but what a mensch you were.

I am years your senior, but your obituary inspires me.

Thank you for being here with us, albeit far too briefly.
Carol Corbin
January 12, 2020
Live Long and prosper, Ken
January 12, 2020
4you seemed like a good guy. from an internet stranger, thank you for the small glimpse into your life and your heart.
January 12, 2020
Ken, too bad you left so soon. I was on the "people I owe money to" list. (Just kidding) Wishing you peace in the arms of God our Father. My prayers to the family and friends of this one of a kind soul. Sounds like our world just got a little bit bleaker.
Lori Olmstead
January 12, 2020
My sincere condolences to the family of this wonderful Christian man. God had plans for Ken and called him home at such an early time in his life . I know his family and friends will miss him so much. His humor and witty conversations. He lived for the moment and the wonders of life. He will live on in the memories of each one he touched in life. Praying for you to have peace, comfort and love from our father in Heaven and Jesus Christ our Savior.
God's child Caring Christian
January 12, 2020
Best obituary ever!!!!
John La Berg
January 12, 2020
Ken - your heartfelt obituary was well received around the world! It was touching, insightful and transparent. Thank you for sharing your whole self. To your sons and family, you were truly blessed to have Ken in your life - a gem, a unique soul who lived fully. God will certainly welcome you into His Kingdom.
K Contratto
January 12, 2020
Now THAT was a great obituary. Filled with honesty, humor, and a real sense of who he was. Hopefully there's a solid typewriter in heaven where he may contine to wow the crowd with his words. Life is short. Tell the ones you love that you love them. RIP
April Bishop
January 12, 2020
I didn't know you Ken, but thank you for the wonderful message, advice, and example of a joyous life you gave us all in your obituary.
Cody Stewart
January 12, 2020
Meeting you through an obituary that I hope goes viral! Enjoyed your sense of humor, honesty and faith. We will met and celebrate Jesus together. May your family be comforted by memories of you and the sure hope found in Jesus. Rather than wear the arm band and wail for a year, I'll donate a book to the library.
Al Steiner
January 12, 2020
What a great tribute, I can only hope that mine will be as good.
From a journalist to a journo's family, godspeed.
January 11, 2020
I am just some random lady in Houston, whose friend posted Ken's obit on FB. My first husband was an addict, my second a newspaper man who then worked for a college. Both are gone now. Reading about Ken and seeing the honesty he clearly embraced by being open about his addiction made me happy, because there's not enough honesty. I can tell that Ken was well loved and much respected. I can't help but believe Ken's openness will help at least one more person take that first step, and that Ken left this blue marble a better place than he found it.
Maureen Spector
January 11, 2020
Thank you, Ken. I'm sure your family and all who knew you will miss you greatly.
January 11, 2020
I don't know you but I do know your family grieves for you. They are missing you and your wonderful humor and love of life. Peace to all.
Karen Guilliams
January 11, 2020
As like so many others who have left messages here, I never knew Ken. I was a news videographer in Boston & one of my old colleagues posted his obituary on Facebook. Ken was obviously a very talented & humorous writer. He & I would have gotten along well. I am in a 12 Step program, myself, so I feel yet another kinship with him. My sincere condolences go out to his 3 sons.
Alicia Brand
January 11, 2020
I didn't know Ken, but if this obituary says anything, it is that he was a great, kind, and humorous soul, and I am sad that the world will go on without him.
January 11, 2020
Just read this obituary on Facebook all the way over here in Thailand. Awesome work! This is the way to do it! Ken, you sound like a great guy.
Andrew Wanner
January 11, 2020
I went to a funeral today. Not Ken's. RIP Mike Shelton, my old boss. I was drawn to seeing another obituary today I guess after attending that funeral earlier. After reading Ken's obituary from social media, I am reminded of our limited time here on earth. Earth has no sorry that heaven cannot heal. I didn't know Ken, but admire his writing skills. I will have to look up some of his work, he was gifted. We should all try and write our own obituary's. Look how great they can turn out! Once you pass, everyone is too sad at the time to think of all the things you did, or should say to be remembered. Get busy living, or get busy dying. Get it down on paper. A great humorous friend of mine who also passed from cancer a number of years ago wrote his own obituary too. RIP John Reidy. It was almost as epic as Ken's. My condolences to Ken's family and friends, you have lost a great one. RIP Ken Fusion. Say hi to JR and MS. And my Dad.
Jen Venn Capron
January 11, 2020
Thanks for the entertaining read Ken, I'll be donating a book to my local library in your honor (not sure they do that, but it's worth a go).
Jack L
January 11, 2020
Boys, sorry for your loss of this great guy. I never knew your Dad but saw his obit on FB and just had to say that it made my day. I may write my own obit one day but it could never capture what and how your Dad write his own. He was honest, funny and seemed like the kind of guy anyone would like as a friend. Prayers for all who love and know this man. God Bless!
Bonnie Sakow
January 11, 2020
When I get to heaven and get settled in
I'm going to find Ken Fusion and let him know how his obituary was a inspiration.
Faye Turner
January 11, 2020
I am grateful I clicked on your obit on Facebook, Ken. Your message of redemption and faith clothed in compassion and humor made my day. Clearly you were a rascal with demons you faced and through grace overcame one day at a time. Bless you and your family. I wish I'd met you in person...but kinda did through your wonderfully crafted adieu. Thank you.
Mary Lawrence
January 11, 2020
My condolences to Mr. Fuson's family.
Shanna Politte
January 11, 2020
It is said that laughter is the best medicine. I wish it could have saved Ken because he is one funny guy and made me laugh when I read his obituary. Heaven just got a lot funnier! Full of good advice and jokes, his obituary reflects a man at peace with himself and leaves the rest of us wishing we had known him. I'm glad I clicked on the twitter link. It started my day off with tears and laughter!
Mary Helen
January 11, 2020
I'm not huge on wailing in public, so I sent a copy of The Giving Tree to your local library instead. What a wonderful person your family has lost. Peace to all of you from South Carolina.
Jessica Drew
January 11, 2020
What a beautiful heartfelt expression of your life, Ken. I didn't know you, but I hope you are high-fiving my family in Heaven right now. Thanks for sharing smiles through the darkest of times. I pray for your family to experience strength, peace, and love in the middle of deep grief. And I pray they allow the dark feelings too. Just be with the whole spectrum of emotions. It's one of the gifts of this life. Sorry never cuts it, and don't short cut it. Feel. Be. You are surrounded with love and support. It comes in unexpected ways. Ken & Family- I'm sure it wasn't always easy, but I hope the good outweighed the bad. Blessings to you.
Amanda Dorsey
January 11, 2020
Didnt know Ken, but read his obituary on facebook....condolences to his family and friends, you lost a great sounding guy.
D Taylor
January 11, 2020
Peace be to all who loved this man. His unvarnished obituary gives us a glimpse of a person who loved Jesus and who knows that Jesus loves him! What a testimony!
Laura F
January 11, 2020
I do know Ken. I use the present tense because he still lives vibrantly in my mind. Met him when we were freshmen at the University of Missouri. We worked at all the same newspapers over four years. There was not a single time I was with him or even spoke his name that I didn't have a smile on my face. How he ended up betting the ponies at Pimlico is a mystery to me. Ken will always be my best definition of the word Iowa. Number two is Field of Dreams.
January 11, 2020
I'm glad I read this! My deepest condolences to your family. Ken seemed to be a very funny, real person. As we are all are, perfectly, imperfect. My husband passed away in September 2019. I hope you meet in the great beyond or wherever you all are at. I think Ken and Larry would be fast friends, jokers.. Rest easy
LeighAnn L
January 11, 2020
Ken. Never met you. Found your legendary Obituary on Facebook... ya finally got published by the looks of it. A+ work, I would have loved to had a few beers with ya. I wish nothing but the best for your family and friends. God bless all of you from CT.
james koehler
January 11, 2020
Well done
Justin Clifton
January 11, 2020
Good obit, Ken.
harlan Jacobson
January 10, 2020
Heaven just got funnier. If you're listening Ken, you are in some pretty good company! Give my kid a hug and save a place for me! Rest In Peace!
Delight Zimak
January 10, 2020
I was a 40 year journalist. A couple of colleagues brought Ken's obituary to my attention. We all agree we would have liked to have known him. So sorry for your loss.
Kathy Kiernan
January 10, 2020
My condolences to Ken's family. I'm so glad I clicked the link to a story on FB which led me here. Ken sounds like an amazing person who had quite the journey.

God bless.
January 10, 2020
Never knew you, but your obituary gave me a smile when I'm feeling down. Rest in peace. I'm making my armband now.
January 10, 2020
Ken seems to have had an amazing sense of humor. I wish I had known him
Misty Rowe
January 10, 2020
I also did not know Ken, but found his obituary on facebook....many condolences to his family and friends, you clearly lost a wonderful person. I thank him for writing his own last words, showing his personality!
January 10, 2020
It just goes to show that the power of a well turned phrase can reach the multitudes. I never met Ken, but after reading his obituary I would have loved to meet him! I sincerely hope his words about addiction help someone who needs to read them. May God give his family comfort and peace in the days ahead. Coincidentally tomorrow is my 50th Birthday. I will think about Ken as he is laid to rest and know that there are wonderful people in the world, and hope I get a chance to meet some Kens
Lana Mays
January 10, 2020
The cemeteries are filled with indispensable men - Charles DeGaulle
Bryan Brodie
January 10, 2020
What a guy! Writing such great words even knowing that he won't be around to see how it brings smiles to its readers. May God comfort the family.

Rest in Peace, Ken, even though I only know you through this awesome obituary!
January 10, 2020
Thank you for sharing your personal and moving journey, Ken. I didn't know you. Those who did know you are blessed. God bless you and your family.
Holly Williamson
January 10, 2020
Ken, thanks to the WSJ 'Best of the Web', I just read your "autobiographical obituary". I wish that I had known you. Maybe after you addressed some of those mentioned shortcomings? Thanks for the way you announced your exit. I'm smiling after reading it and looking at your picture.

You are with God. May He always be with your family.
Ralph Wright
January 10, 2020
I didn't know Ken, but, like many who have left comments here, I found it on fb. I've read and re-read and re-re-read this, often with tears in my eyes. There is beauty and reality and grace and real life here. I would have loved Ken. Thank you.
Rev. Evan Dodge
January 10, 2020
It was my blessing to sit next to Ken and share music with him for about a year in the Praise Choir at Lutheran Church of Hope. While Ken was quick to note he didn't read music, what he wouldn't tell you is that he had an exceptional singing voice. I have no doubt there is a spot for him in the heavenly choir and I look forward to singing with him again! Godspeed, good friend.
Dave Kennedy
January 10, 2020
Like many on the guestbook here, I found Ken's obituary when it was shared by a friend on social media. The words he wrote reflect the life of a kind soul and a gifted storyteller. Praying for comfort for his family and friends. May he rest in peace.
Paul Dobbs
January 10, 2020
Don't know Ken but after reading his Obit, would of liked to have known him. Me and my family pray the richest comforts and blessings, your Dad, Father, grandpa was a fine man. 1st john 1, John chpt 1 In Christ, a reader of Kens Obit. See ya Ken, one day well talk... We believe!
Mr Smith
January 10, 2020
Great man and glad you had a fun filled journey throughout your life.

We thank God for you and pray you rest in peace eternally.

Pray God also comforts your family.

Btw you're such a great writer and trust you're writing and singing your heart out in heaven.

Love from far away Africa on an island called Bonny in Nigeria.

January 10, 2020
May God continue to grant peace and strength to your family and loved ones.
Evan Yeaager, Ed.D
January 10, 2020
A friend shared Ken's obit on Facebook and it brought a smile to my face as I read it. May God comfort the family in your loss and may we all heed Ken's words to embrace every moment, even the bad ones. Thank you so much for this reminder.
Michelle J
January 10, 2020
Wow!! I only wish that my first taste of Ken's exquisite writing, wasn't my last. Thoughts and prayers for his family and friends. May he RIP.
James Ennis
January 10, 2020
My condolences to Mr. Fuson's family. His writing sparkles with personality, and I'm sure he had a great one.
April Joyner
January 10, 2020
I am sorry our paths never crossed...wish I had known him. Rest in peace.
January 10, 2020
God rest your soul and console your family!
LD Speck
January 10, 2020
I never met Ken, but a friend shared his obituary. What remarkable courage to live as honestly, heartfelt and irreverently as he did. My condolences for your loss.
John Kingsley
January 10, 2020
Ken, regarding your obituary, well said. RIP
Mike N.
January 10, 2020
I don't know you personally, Ken, but you sounded like a heck of a guy!!! I let people cut in line too LOL!!! May you rest in peace in heaven and I send blessings to your family who I know miss you very, very much. The world was a better place with you in it.
Mary Scott
January 10, 2020
Michael B
January 10, 2020
I did not know Ken Fuson but I'm inspired to check out some of his news lines. I can imagine his funeral will be amazing as loved ones share their stories of Ken's success and struggles! Praying for comfort, hope and support for his family and friends!
Connie Fairchild
January 10, 2020
To the friends and family of Ken,
Many of us on Facebook are reading of Ken for the first time through his lovely obituary. Assuming he wrote his obituary, and based on what was written, I'd say you had the chance to spend time with a flawed, talented and wonderfully human human being. My condolences on your loss. May you find relief from your grief in your memories and the writing Ken left behind.
Nancy Robinson
January 10, 2020
I learned a lot from Ken about writing when I was also a Gannett journalist. RIP, my fellow word nerd. Thanks for the wonderful obituary. #30
Susan MacDonald
January 10, 2020
Never met Ken or any of his family, but what a life he lived. His obituary is a testament to a life well lived. He brought hope to many and left this world a better place and a sense of who Ken Fuson was and how much we need to heed his words.
Melinda Ratchford
January 10, 2020
I never met Ken or even heard of him before today, but saw his obituary today listed online - and made me a bit happier than I was before. My dad is on his deathbed in the hospital - and I needed this little bit of lift to keep myself from losing it. Condolences, love and laughs to Ken's loved ones and family.
Rob Postuma
January 10, 2020
I don't know you, Ken, but you made me smile this morning as I read your words on social media. A life well lived!
Lisa Brown
January 10, 2020
I don't know Ken. I never met the guy, but I appreciate his candor and bravery in writing his own obituary. I am sorry his sons lost their father, he sounds like he was a great guy.
January 10, 2020
I didn't know Ken but having just read his obituary, I really wish I had! What an honest, witty, heart-felt life review. Sincere condolences to his family.
Pamela Morton
January 10, 2020
So sorry for your loss Amy & boys! I am out of state but thinking about you! ❤
Sharmin Lathrop
January 10, 2020
I have never met Ken, but a friend shared his Obituary and boy, I wish I could have met him. I am so sorry his family and friends lost such a great man. I imagine that he left great memories and plenty of stories to share. I am saying a prayer for comfort in your hearts.
Pamela Gilbertson
January 10, 2020
First time I can say that an obituary was inspiring. Mr. Fuson definitely enriched the lives of those around him.
Karland Kilian
January 10, 2020
Never knew Ken, but his warm and wonderful obit makes me wish I had. I'm sure he didn't have to cut any line at all; he went straight to the pearly gates! Condolences to the family. May his memory bring you more smiles than tears. Love never ends.
Virginia Breen
January 10, 2020
Andrea Reese
January 10, 2020
David Richmond
January 10, 2020
Rest in Peace. We got your back. Your work speaks for itself.
Neatta Zaragoza
January 10, 2020
I wish I'd known him! Condolences to his family and friends.
L. Newton
January 10, 2020
I met Ken back in January 2005. I was back in the United States recovering from my injuries sustained in Iraq. I had been approached by many reporters wanting to write about my story. A few had misrepresented my story, views on the war in Iraq, etc... and I was very guarded and leery of reporters. But after meeting with Ken, I could sense he was different from the others. He assured me he would tell my story, the real story, not involve politics, etc... Eventually, I entrusted Ken with my story, my families story.....and he wrote a 3-part series that was featured in the Des Moines Register. To this day, I feel it is one of the best stories detailing my experience recovering from wounds. Ken is and will always be good people in my books.
Brent Jurgersen
January 10, 2020
Sorry to read about Ken's passing. We lost someone with a wonderful sense of humor who brought to light some great life lessons. From trusting in God, leaning on others and enjoying our short time on this earth. My condolences to the family, especially his parents and sons. Be thankful for the time you shared and know you will meet again. Peace.
Dan Michalek
January 10, 2020
I dont know Ken, but it is clear that he loved his life and was a gifted writer. A friend shared this amazing obituary, and it showed me a glimpse of his life. Rarely does an obituary make one smile, he is still making folks happy now. May his family find peace with his untimely passing.
Jill Saxton-Moody
January 10, 2020
I'm convinced Ken lived, instead of simply existing. I surmise he benefited from the love and grace of others, and returned that love and grace to all who knew him. I speculate Ken's verbosity rolled many an eye over the decades, but now those same eyes, wet with tears, would give their left foot to hear it again. I'm certain he earned his next gig as a beat reporter for the Saint Peter Herald. God bless you, Ken.
Evan Sether
January 10, 2020
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