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Kenneth Ronning, 97, Buffalo, ND died on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023 at Sanford on Broadway, Fargo, ND.
Kenneth Alvin Ronning was born on Friday the 13th of August 1926, number 8 of 9 children to Thomas and Clara Ronning in rural Litchville, ND. He grew up speaking Norwegian and switched to English when he started school.
His mother died when he was 12, leaving sister Inga to assume the role of mother. Not being a landowner, his dad went to work in the shipyards of the West coast, leaving Ken and his younger brother, Tom to live on their own to finish high school. Two days after graduating in 1944, he enlisted in the US Navy - his dad having to sign permission as he was 17 years old. In the Navy, he served as a radio operator in the Hawaiian Islands, learning Morse Code which served him well in his 44 year career as a telegrapher/depot agent for Northern Pacific and Burlington Northern Railroads.
One night while cruising the streets of Buffalo with a friend, he met Elaine Larson. They were married June 17, 1951 at her family’s farm and celebrated 64 years before her death on Jan. 11, 2016. Ken and Elaine were blessed with three children, Cheryl, Dana and Kerry. They also suffered the pain of two stillborn baby boys and a miscarriage.
Ken worked as an agent/telegrapher at many depots of the Northern Pacific and Burlington Northern: Buffalo, Alice, Tower City, Casselton, a mobile van route in SW Barnes Cty, the Extra Board which included Minot and Valley City, retiring in 1991 from the Dilworth office.
Ken and Elaine enjoyed many road trips across the USA; often traveling cross-country to attend weddings of nieces and nephews. The family took advantage of free travel on the NP and BN, going to Detroit Lakes and back on a Saturday just for fun, to Seattle for the World’s Fair in 1964 and weekends to Billings, MT just to ride the train.
In addition to his railroad job, he was the clerk of the Buffalo School Board for 31 years, he did farm work for Dan Pehrsson, Vince and David Larson, served on the church council and as a Sunday School and Bethel Bible Teacher, city clerk and a member of the Easton Yanish Legion Post 10 in Buffalo. He and Elaine enjoyed trips to Hankinson and he played a mean game of Pinochle. He loved playing with nieces and nephews at family reunions. He was an avid ping-pong player, horseshoe pitcher and whist player in the Friendship Card Club in Buffalo. He also found time to build their home in Buffalo, assisted by Elaine.
He was proud to travel to Washington DC on the first Honor Flight from North Dakota. He thoroughly enjoyed a trip to Norway with Cheryl and Dana in 2022 and a Twins baseball game this August in celebration of his 97th birthday with his entire immediate family.
Ken is survived by three children: daughter, Cheryl (Clint) Gumke and their sons, Jeremy Gumke (Collin, Landon) and Adam (Kelsey) Gumke (Benjamin and Grace); Son, Dana (Gail) and their daughters, Tessa (Dan) McKinney, Hillary (Megan); Son, Kerry and his children, Kaitlyn, Christopher and Aria; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Elaine, parents and siblings and a half brother.
Visitation: Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023 from 5 to 7 PM with a prayer service at 7 PM at West Funeral Home, Casselton, ND.
Funeral: Wednesday, Oct. 25 at 10:30 AM at Buffalo Lutheran Church with visitation one hour prior. (The service will be recorded and available for viewing later Wednesday afternoon)
Burial: Buffalo Cemetery.
West Funeral Home & Life Tribute Center