Kenneth B. Thilges died Jan, 1, 2020, at Banner Boswell Medical Center in Sun City. He was born July 13, 1944, in Algona, Iowa.
Ken farmed with his parents before enlisting in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.
Ken was united in marriage to Nancy Kennedy in 1967 and would deploy to Vietnam soon after. On returning to Glendale, after discharging from the Air Force, Ken attended ASU and completed his major in mathematics, graduating in 1973. He began his career as a math teacher in the Deer Valley School District (DVSD) from 1973, retiring in 1999 for health reasons. The family hosted a foreign exchange student from San Paulo, Brazil; Fabiola Sartori.
Along with teaching, Ken's passion was in umpiring high school baseball games, coaching little league baseball and support soccer, football and softball programs. Ken spent his weekends and summers with his family in Pinetop, creating memories filled with fishing, hiking, hunting and exploring on ATV's and snowmobiles.
After retirement, Ken joined Lakeview Woodworking Shop in Sun City as a lifetime member. There, Ken created detailed wood pieces that included scrolled crosses, plaques and magnets of each of the 50 states and flag boxes for Arizona fallen soldiers (107). Additionally, he made entertainment centers, end tables, cradles, rocking horses and chairs for his children and grandchildren.
He attended St. Jerome, St. Raphael and St. Clement Catholic churches in the Valley and St. Mary of the Angels Church in Pinetop, where he served as an usher. He loved camping, traveling the U.S. as well as abroad to places such as Fatima, Lourdes, Spain and Ireland with Father Oliver Curran and members of St. Mary's parish.
Kenneth is survived by his wife, Nancy; daughter Nicole (Michael) Collins; son John (Kimberly) Thilges; nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
A memorial mass will take place Saturday, Feb. 22, at 11 a.m. at St. Mary of the Angels Church, 1915 Penrod Lane in Pinetop. Military honors and interment will follow at Angels Rest Columbarium at the church. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Little Sisters of the Poor; Villa Guadalupe, 1900 Mark Avenue, Gallup, NM 87301.