Moving While You’re Young

I forget the exact number, but in the first year or two we were married, Alice and I moved many times. We were dandelion seeds bouncing over the terrain, looking for a place to put down roots. In 1975 I got accepted for an undergraduate program at Michigan Tech, so we moved to the Copper Country. We knew Alice’s parents, who had recently retired to nearby Pelkie, but were completely on our own when it came to people our own age.

I had a fortuitous encounter while doing my laundry at a laundromat in Hancock. It was shortly after we arrived, and I was busy with soap, quarters, and shuffling damp loads from here to there. A guy about my age walked in who turned out to be the facility’s mechanic, and started working on one of the machines. We were pretty much alone in that big place, so we started talking. It was Ken Steiner.

Ken knew who Buckminster Fuller was, understood about tipis, yurts, natural foods, living in the country, The Whole Earth Catalog, etc. I came away from that encounter feeling like we’ll be ok here… that there are kindred souls.

And we were ok. After I received a couple of undistinguished degrees, we both wound up with careers at MTU that lasted as long as we both wanted. We found enough acreage within commute distance from MTU so we could both work on our dream of life in the country, while maintaining our jobs and raising our son.

Ken and I had sparse contact in the intervening years. Ken got into food service and was very good at it. Like me, he found a community outlet in volunteer work at Little Brothers. Ken did way more than I did, but we both wound up as lead chefs at our respective meal sites. Ken played the blues harmonica; a skill I admired him for.

Ken learned about his heart problems a few months ago. This culminated in an open heart surgery in Marquette that would save his life. He went through the surgery with the grace of a dancer. He posted pictures on Facebook of a tired man that was well and truly on the mend. This morning we learned he lost that battle. I miss you Ken. You showed me there was fertile soil in the neighborhood for a misfit like me. My roots run grateful and deep, thanks in part to a helping hand from you early on.

7 Responses to “Moving While You’re Young”

  1. Dina Ariel says:

    So sorry for your loss Ted. This has not been an easy time. I do want to thank you for sending me a snail mail paper copy of your newsletter. I appreciate it.

  2. Cindy Selfe says:

    What a marvelous memory, Ted, and an eloquent essay! We’ll miss Ken, too!

  3. marj krumm says:

    Thanks for the elegant and heart felt words, Ted. Ken will be sorely missed and I am sure stories of his peaceful life will be tumbling around for a very long time.

  4. Mary Peed says:

    I’m sorry for your loss.

  5. Rich Rudy says:

    Sorry to hear about the loss of your good friend, Ted. It seems that sometime we take acquaintences for granted and then one day find out they are gone. Then we are suddenly hit with that deep sense of loss. As I get older I find that I am having that kind of experience more often as friends and acquaintenaces pass on. Each time it seems to draw me closer to those that are still here. I hope that your sense of loss will be replaced by warm memories of past good times with your friend.

  6. Robert Jones says:

    Ted, Just yesterday I learned that Ken had died. I remember Ken as an interesting, talented, and resourceful person whose connection to folks was exemplified by his work with Little Brothers. The support from his many friends as he battled his health problems clearly showed the affection that folks held for him.

    Stay strong and be well, my friend.

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