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Life Story / Obituary
With a life that spanned times of war and times of peace, times of plenty and times of want, Kenneth Segerdahl made the most of the days he was given. He was a fantastic storyteller with a fun-loving sense of humor and a zest for life that was contagious to all who were near. Ken was passionate about farming and sailing, but it was his family that was most near and dear to his heart. He was known for his strong work ethic, and he served as an amazing example to his children and grandchildren. Ken faced times of trial, but he continued to find his joy in the love he shared with his family. Deeply loved, he will be forever missed.
The 1930s were some of the most trying days we have faced as a nation as the entire decade was cloaked in the hardship of the Great Depression. There were few jobs, and as a result people often left their lives behind in order to chase after hopes of work in a new city. The agricultural industry was particularly affected as things only became more dire when a drought covered our nation’s heartland for nearly two years during this time. Despite the trials around them, Arthur and Maria (Johannsson) Segerdahl had something to celebrate as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named Kenneth Ivan on April 5, 1931, in Mishawaka, Indiana. The fourth of five children, he was raised alongside his siblings, Margaret, Arthur Jr., Violet, and Leonard. His parents had immigrated to Mishawaka from Sweden, and they later moved to Schoolcraft, Michigan, buying up several farms. All three Segerdahl boys became farmers like their father, and they had over 1,000 acres in all. They were primarily corn and soybean father, but they also had a feed and grain mill. Ken spent much of his time working on the farm while he was growing up. He attended school in Schoolcraft, but he was pulled out of school to help on the farm when he was in sixth grade. Despite his lack of formal education, Ken was a lifelong learner. He and his family went back to Sweden twice, and Ken was a teen at the time. They went sailing on their boat called “Nellbritt,” delivering whatever they could sell, and Ken served as the cook. He ended up calling his 35 foot sailboat he kept in South Haven the same name later in life.
New and exciting changes were in store for Ken when he met the woman of his dreams. Her name was Janice Molzahn, and they met when he was driving down the road where she couldn’t help but notice how neat and clean he was. They began dating, and it wasn’t long before the couple found themselves deeply in love. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together Ken and Janice were married on February 3, 1951, at her parents’ house in Vicksburg. The newlyweds made their home on the family farm and started a family. Together they were blessed with five children, Anita, Dawn, Neil, Diane, and Bruce. Ken worked hard, which was something his children all learned from him, and his wife supported him in every way. She saw to it that there was “coffee time” about three or four in the afternoon complete with pumpernickel sandwiches and coffee. Around the home Ken could seemingly fix anything as he was super resourceful. Janice loved to garden and take care of the yard while he showed his love by keeping up with the house.
As his family and friends can attest, Ken was a man of many interests who kept very busy. Prior to owning his own boat they often drove back East or to South Haven to look at sailboats. He showed German Shepherds for many years as he was always looking for a way to bring in a little extra money. In fact, Ken has been called the original picker as he was forever picking up treasures to collect. He and his wife were always on the move and enjoyed traveling South in their travel trailer. As he got closer to retirement, Ken had more time for sailing and loved being out on the water. An amazing storyteller, he took full advantage of having a captive audience on the boat or while in the car. While out sailing Ken liked to listen to the Milwaukee station, playing oldies from the 30s and 40s. In keeping with his Swedish heritage, he loved a Swedish potato dumpling called Kroppkakor.
When he got a bit older, life was full of both peaks and valleys for Ken. He was devastated with the unexpected death of his wife, and he never quite recovered. Since she wasn’t much of a boater, he did find enjoyment being out on the water since nothing was better than being in the middle of the lake in his book. Ken loved how there was never a rush when out on the water, and he enjoyed sharing his passion with others. He even liked being called Captain or Kenny while out on the water. Some years he spent nearly the entire summer out on the boat. He had some cats that became treasured companions during his later years.
All who knew Kenneth Segerdahl would agree that he was truly extraordinary. He could be opinionated at times, but he also told the best stories that often showcased his great sense of humor. Ken was strong and tenacious with a deep desire for things to be fair, just, and right. His father told him to be honest from the time he was a young boy, and he lived his entire life by that standard. A family man through and through, Ken cherished time spent with loved ones the most. He will never be forgotten.
On Sunday, five days prior to his passing Ken accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. The Segerdahl family finds comfort in knowing Ken’s basking in the glory of God’s presence. Kenneth Ivan Segerdahl, of Paw Paw, died December 15, 2017, at Rose Arbor Hospice. Ken’s family includes his 3 children: Neil (Carol) Segerdahl, Diane Parish and Bruce Segerdahl; 7 grandchildren: Sarah Thurston, Brooke (David) Hines, Mary Segerdahl, Preston (Ebony) Parish, Laura Parish, Corinna Parish and Jessica Dozeman; 13 great-grandchildren: Steven, Andrew, Katie, Ben, Isabelle, Maya, Collin, Abby, Sam, Jillian, Asa, Zane and Zekarii and many nieces and nephews. Ken was preceded in death by his wife, Janice Segerdahl; 2 children: Anita and Dawn; grandson, Jacob, and 4 siblings: Margaret, Arthur Jr., Violet and Leonard. Visitation will be held Thursday at 10am Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr. Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900 followed by a service at 11am. A luncheon will follow in the Life Story Center. Burial will take place at Vicksburg Cemetery. Please visit Ken’s personal web page at www.betzlerfuneralhome.com, where you can read his story, archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to SPCA.
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” The Bible, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14