Kenneth Marvin Buehner, 91, was reunited with his beloved wife Lois and his Heavenly Father when he broke free of his earthly moorings Saturday morning, June 12, 2021 at their residence in Countryside Living assisted living facility in Mitchell, South Dakota. He was accompanied by his loving, singularly devoted daughter Joyce who was his primary care provider since his COVID hospitalization and rehabilitation. Although he conquered the coronavirus infection, his ravaged lungs and broken heart could not be healed.
The Buehner family encourages everyone to get vaccinated and continue to follow CDC guidelines regarding the coronavirus to prevent further unnecessary loss of life. In lieu of flowers please send donations to Feeding South Dakota or Mainstreet Living, two of their favorite charities.
He was born in the little township of Clayton, South Dakota on November 4, 1929, but because his Baptismal Certificate says November 2, he liked to claim two birthdays and two birthday cakes. He was the seventh of nine brothers and sisters, two of whom died in infancy. His mother died when he was just 11, but they were raised by a loving stepmother. He grew up helping on the family farm as well as the implement business, grocery store, mercantile, and gas station.
He graduated from Bridgewater High School and graduated from the Chicago Electrical Trade School in 1948. Soon after, he enlisted in the Navy and served proudly as a Machinist Mate First Class aboard the USS Merrick, an Andromeda-class attack cargo ship, maintaining the engines and generators in the Korean War theater. After an honorary discharge, he first returned to South Dakota, but having seen the Rocky Mountains from a plane, he decided to go see the mountains from the ground. He bought a 1953 Desoto and moved to a Denver boarding house, where he wired new houses for Baker Electric before working for the Public Service of Colorado.
In that boarding house he met a little girl named Sandy and her beautiful mother Lois Eileen Stanbridge, who became the love of his life. His persistence paid off when they were married October 25, 1956. They moved into a newly built, little brick house in Westminster, Colorado where they had two sons, Marvin and Tom, but lost a third son, Donald, to complications of pregnancy. The family enjoyed many drives and picnics in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.
Soon after, they moved to Emery, South Dakota, but after a long, harsh winter in an old farmhouse with no running water, the family moved to Southern California, where their daughter Joyce was born. He used his skills to take his place in the aerospace boom of the era as an electrician with Rockwell International. Rockwell manufactured parts for the Apollo Space Project and the kids were treated to the exhibition of the various space capsules on their return from orbiting the moon. The family enjoyed many camping vacations in the Sierras, the California desert, and in National Parks across the west on the way to visiting relatives in South Dakota and Colorado and fishing at Roy Lake.
After 12 years in California, Ken followed his entrepreneurial dream and they bravely returned to South Dakota to establish Buehner Hardware, an all-family enterprise in Tripp. After a few good years, financial hardship forced the sale of the store, but they got back up and enjoyed three years in San Antonio taking in the fiestas, the River Walk, and all “the fun things to do” there. When he aged out of the electrical supply company that employed him, they moved back to California where he worked for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in Los Angeles.
Ultimately, they both retired and the moved back to their house in Tripp, where he began extensive renovations. In addition to installing a new kitchen and floors, he built an attached garage and remodeled the front porch inspired by the homes they had seen while visiting Switzerland. The ultimate handyman, he could fix almost any electrical appliance, big or small. Sometimes to Lois’ dismay, he would “recycle” almost everything, but he always had the part he needed!
Ken’s steadfast faith was the cornerstone of his life, which he led with integrity, honor, discipline, and love. He was a devout Missouri Synod Lutheran and an active parishioner of the Emmaus Lutheran Church where he served in several leadership positions. He was a proud member of the Jelkin-Harms American Legion Post 142, serving as Commander for a term. His active civic service included Hutchinson County Fair Committee and he was instrumental in establishing and dedicating the Memorial to Veterans in Tripp’s city park.
Ken loved fishing and camping in the trailer they towed all around the country. They even pulled it to Alaska with their Jeep Cherokee. He was a Cookie Monster and peanut butter or chocolate chip cookies did not last long around him. We all have memories of the hours he spent reading every page of every newspaper and clipping out all of the sale coupons to share with us all. He loved to grill soy marinated steaks and smoke turkeys in his Big Green Egg. He taught his kids how to wire and woodwork and his grandkids to make strawberry ice cream. His huge garden and his complicated irrigation apparatus were a great source of pride. But more than anything, he reveled in his family, his wife, kids, grandkids, and great grandkids. He and Lois went to every graduation, concert, dance, sports and milestone events for their kids, grandkids, and great grandkids that they possibly could. After Lois passed just four months ago, his expressions of love and affection for his family took on a new poignancy. It will come as no surprise to those who were blessed to know him that his last words were “I love you.”
Ken was preceded by his devoted and beloved wife of 65 years, Lois Eileen (Stanbridge) Buehner on February 6, 2021, his mother Rebecca Nina (Hogrefe) Buehner, his father Carl Albert Buehner, stepmother Ann (Ahrendt) Buehner, sister Lucille (Buehner) Franklin, brothers Carl “Carlie” Buehner, Glenn Buehner, Harold Buehner, Dennis Buehner, Robert Buehner, and Ronald Buehner.
He is survived by his sister Carol (Buehner) Hieb, his daughter Sandy (Buehner) Wiese and her husband Brad Wiese, his sons Marvin Buehner and Tom Buehner, his daughter Joyce Buehner, his grandchildren Cynthia Wiese, Christopher Wiese and his wife Season (Kerrigan) Wiese, Jonathan Wiese and his wife Brenda (Antunez) Wiese, Corissa Buehner, Matt Buehner, Carly Buehner, Jake Buehner, and by his great-grandchildren Sammi Wiese, Emily Wiese, Cassidy Wiese, Oliver Wiese, and Adeline Wiese.
The funeral service for Ken Buehner will be at 10:30am, Friday, June 18th at Emmaus Lutheran Church in Tripp.
We will also honor the life of Lois Buehner then as her memorial was hampered by the pandemic.
Visitation will be from 5:00 to 7:00 pm on Thursday evening, June 17th at Emmaus Lutheran Church in Tripp.