(WSB photo from December 2009)
That’s the family-suggested heading for the obituary that will appear in the Seattle Times this weekend and was shared with us for publication today by Dave Townsend, nephew of Ken Wise, the longtime entrepreneur, Rotarian, and totem-pole sleuth – the only photo in our files is the one above, with Mr. Wise at left, the day he and fellow Rotarian Duane Ruud (right) went out to Lake Sawyer to try to track down the then-missing pole, later recovered, and then reinstalled four days before his death (as Rotary past president Amy Lee Derenthal noted at last night’s rededication). Hours before that sleuthing expedition (which WSB co-publisher Patrick Sand tagged along for, taking the above photo), Mr. Wise had joined in the annual Rotary Shopping Spree at SODO Sears – an event he founded, according to his obituary. His service is one week from tomorrow, as you’ll read, ahead:
Born and raised in West Seattle, Kenny Wise was a local institution:
From leading the West Seattle Rotary Kiddies Parade at Hi-Yu, to being Santa for years at the Rotary Christmas shopping day at Sears for needy children, which he initiated in 1974, and most recently leading the hunt for the stolen Rotary Totem Pole, he was everywhere in West Seattle.
After graduating from West Seattle High School, he attended the University of Washington. He was a member of Chi Phi fraternity and rowed on the crew team for 3 years. He was drafted into the Army, served in the Korean War, and then returned to West Seattle to work for his father, Robert Wise, at West Fuel. He became the owner of West Fuel in 1965 and successfully ran the fuel oil business until he sold the company in 1995.
The West Seattle Rotary was a huge part of Kenny’s life for over 50 years. He served as President 1966-67 and again in 1976-77. In June of this year he received the Inspirational Award. He was a life member of the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce and served as its President in 1977. He had received the 110% Award for 1993-94.
He also served many years on the West Seattle YMCA Board, which seemed fitting since he attended Camp Orkila as a youth. In recent years, he served on the Board of South Seattle Community College. Kenny was also active in the West Seattle Sportsmen’s Club and attended this year’s Kiddies’ Fishing Derby with his two youngest grandsons.
Kenny was an avid fisherman who fished all over the world, from the Arctic to Siberia to Africa to South America. Just last September he was fishing in Alaska with four grandchildren and a stepson; many friends and neighbors have enjoyed his legendary salmon barbecues over the years. His generosity and service ensure that his community-minded West Seattle citizen will long be remembered and admired.
Kenny passed away after a 10-month fight with cancer. He is survived by his wife, Anne, sister Lane Townsend, brother Oly Wise, and son Tom Wise (Wendi) stepsons, Martin Bentrott, Bryan Bentrott (Mary Ann), Robert Bentrott (Christina) and 13 loving grandchildren: Chandra Hoover; Corrine Wise; and Bryan, Matt, Mark, Amy, Brandon, David, Kelly, Corbin, Chase, Kiran, and Collin Bentrott.
In lieu of flowers remembrances can be made to: West Seattle Rotary Service Foundation at 6523 California Ave. S.W. #315, Seattle, WA 98136, or Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 1100 Fairview Ave. North – MS J5-200, Seattle, WA. 98109.
A memorial service will be held Thursday, August 19 at 11 a.m. at Fauntleroy Community Church, 9140 California Ave. SW.