Kenneth A. Zarker
Kenneth A Zarker
October 10, 2021
Olympia, Washington - It is with a heavy heart that the family of Ken Zarker announces his sudden passing on October 10, 2021.
Ken's passing leaves an immense hole in the lives of his wife, Denise; sons, Alex and Ethan; brothers, Larry (Kelley) and Doug (Cathy); his aunt, cousins, nephews and nieces; and legions of dear friends, both new and very old. Only stories and memories of Ken's profoundly kind, optimistic, and overall good nature will fill that chasm.
In his own words, remember Ken as a loyal friend who enjoyed adventure; held a positive outlook on life; loved his family; valued relationships that are long lasting; enjoyed soccer, hiking, backpacking, skiing and snowboarding; and relished all things outdoors.
A service will be held at noon (PST) on Friday, October 22, at St. Michael Parish, 1208 11th Avenue SE, in Olympia. For those unable to attend, the ceremony will be live-streamed via: https://youtube.com/c/SaintMichaelParish.
Instead of flowers, please consider a donation to one of the following charities: The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, where Ken volunteered with the executive committee; the Thurston County Food Project, which was founded in Ken's Olympia neighborhood; Harmony Hill Retreat Center, which supported Ken and his family during his cancer journey—the only 'adventure' he might have chosen to skip; or the SIMS Foundation in Austin, because Ken loved the music scene there and our first neighbor in Austin was Sim's brother, Kyle.
Ken's decency, sincerity and generous spirit will stay with us forever and he will be deeply missed by family and friends.

Published by The Olympian on Oct. 17, 2021.
To plant trees in memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.
MEMORIAL EVENTS
Oct
22
Service
12:00p.m.
St. Michael Parish
1208 11th Avenue SE, Olympia, WA
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20 Entries
I have so many good memories of Ken and his family when we dated during the 1990s and am so sorry to learn of his passing. He was an exceptional person, kind, loving, and dedicated to his passions: enjoying and preserving nature, family and friends, restoring beautiful cars, and being a good friend to all. I also loved how he´d smile and flip his shoulder length blond hair and never saw a mountain or trail he did not want to hike! Ken introduced me to the joys of nature and hiking though the mountains of Colorado and California, exploring the deserts of Texas. We had many adventures throughout the Southwest, exhilarating, beautiful, sometimes scary, and never boring ! I will never forget the night we saw huge, monstrous coal digging machinery bearing down on us as we drove down a dimly lite dirt road somewhere in the undeveloped areas of southern Arizona/New Mexico. I will cherish his memory for ever. My love, big hugs, and condolences to all his surviving family.
Sherry Cordry
Friend
November 9, 2021
Ken has been a house-mate, roommate, tent-mate, scout-mate, true friend and brother for 50 years. I was lucky to have Ken hike with me at Philmont, Big Bend, Yosemite and the Pecos Wilderness here in New Mexico. I was proud to share our love of the outdoors and the beauty of a campfire, mountain range or a starlit night sky. Ken´s familiar smile when we were on top of Half Dome will be with me always. Ken was also a huge influence on my love of music. He turned me onto John Denver, Dan Fogelberg, Jackson Browne, Echo, Joy Division, and so much more wonderful music. He was even a part time bassist during our Enfield jam sessions. Ken´s work on protecting our environment... along with his trekking, hiking, soccer, biking, snorkeling, snowboarding and skiing... is a testament to his fearless spirit. And that will live on in all who knew him. I will always remember Ken and miss him terribly. Take care, good buddy. Love Jeff
Jeff Babcock
November 3, 2021
May God embrace and welcome Ken into his presence. For God created this good and decent man and it is to God that he returns. I will miss you my dear friend!
Israel Anderson
October 27, 2021
I work for the State of Minnesota and met Ken back in the 1990s at a National Pollution Prevention Roundtable conference. He led that group in many ways ever since, and his support of state-to-state cooperation and information-sharing helped Minnesota stand up its pollution prevention program. On a personal level, Ken's warmth made one eager to work with him on interstate and national issues. This continued into the toxics reduction and safer product chemistry work which took off in the later 2000s. Ken helped assemble a wonderful team in Washington who clearly shared and fed off his warmth and generosity. Our green and safer chemistry program are in debt to Ken and to Washington's leadership. And Minnesota's residents and environment owe much to Ken, and we will not forget his contribution. We had a great virtual meeting with him and his team on Sept. 29th, and it is hard to grasp how he can now be so suddenly gone. I now will treasure our last in-person meeting in St. Paul in 2018, and the good-bye hug we shared then. With love from Minnesota.
Al Innes
Work
October 22, 2021
Dear Zarker Family, The scientists at ToxServices have honored Ken Zarker with 50 memorial trees. Ken's work and ethos were a breath of fresh air to a society gasping for hope and a future. Ken's work and kindness will live on. With my sincere condolences. Meg Whittaker
Meg Whittaker
Friend
October 22, 2021
Meg Whittaker
October 21, 2021
Dear Zarker Family, Please accept my deepest condolences for the untimely loss of your beloved Ken. I met him on a few occasions because he was my brother in law's brother. I know how much he was esteemed by his loved ones. May you find comfort in celebrating your fortune in having each other, even though the time was too short. So sorry for your loss. God bless you, Carla Martinez
Carla Martinez
Family
October 21, 2021
Ken always had a smile for you and a gleam in his eye. He was one of the wisest of council because you knew his decisions would be fair and just. I hope he is riding a vintage 1957 Cadillac convertible through the heavens. A great man who made a positive difference to all that knew him.
Jeff Voorhis
Friend
October 21, 2021
Ken was a truly decent man in the best sense of the word. I got to spend some good quality time with him and his family over thanksgiving a couple of years ago. I know it's a big void now for Deni, Alex and Ethan, but I'm sure Ken left a legacy of love good friends that will help fill that void. His memory and spirit will be with you always. Hope to see you all soon. God bless all and take care for now. Tom Pantels
Thomas Pantelis
October 18, 2021
Ken and Doug were more like family to me. We were all new kids in a new neighborhood around 1970. I´ll see you at the great gig in the sky brother.
Patrick David Lanier
October 18, 2021
Patrick David Lanier
October 18, 2021
Our thoughts and condolences are with the Zarker family. Ken's strength of character and purpose were present from when I met him in high school. Ken's positivity always shown through.
Tom Bowers
Friend
October 18, 2021
We met Ken at St. Michael Parish's Peregrine Cancer Support Group. Ken was always very quiet, kind and soft spoken. He will be greatly missed. He never let cancer slow him down and this was a real inspiration to us. May he rest in peace and his family find comfort and healing.
Kevin and Jayne Mervau
October 17, 2021
I remember great days hiking at Enchanted Rock, Big Bend. We had fun in our college days in Austin at the Enfield house, Continental Club... It was good to see Ken and Denise at ABGB in Austin a couple years ago. I am very sorry and am sad at the loss of a wonderful person who shared with me environmentalism, activism, athletics. Ken was always playing soccer in Austin years ago at a high level. I appreciate his years of work to improve the water quality of Texas with the state water board. I am here to help if I can do anything for you or your kids, Denise. Love.
Don Murphey
Friend
October 16, 2021
Ken and I were friends in high school and college. He was the type of person you could always count on - he would be there for you. As we grew into our adult years, we lost track of one another. Reading the kind words you shared about Ken´s life brought back many memories for me. Ken loved the outdoors and cared about the environment - he clearly never lost those passions. My deepest sympathy to Ken´s family.
Larry Jernigan
Friend
October 16, 2021
Whether backpacking in the Sierra Nevada, attending a classic car show, working together for environmental protection, or just going to happy hour at Manuel's in downtown Austin, Ken was always a great companion, colleague, and friend - indeed my best friend. Memories of our time together are only part of the wonderful legacy he leaves behind. The world is a better place because of Ken Zarker.
Ken Kramer
Friend
October 16, 2021
David P Hamrick
Friend
October 16, 2021
David P Hamrick
Friend
October 16, 2021
David P Hamrick
Friend
October 16, 2021
Doug, Larry & family - I was shocked to hear about Ken. Even though I haven't seen him in years, I have wonderful memories of him from our Scout & Stratford days. Our thoughts & prayers are with you in this difficult time. David & Debbie
David P Hamrick
Friend
October 16, 2021
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