Ken was born March 22, 1945, in Le Mars, the son of Henry and Rose (Doering) Beeck. He grew up on the family farm in Iowa and graduated from Le Mars High School in 1963.
Ken graduated from the University of Iowa in 1967 where he met his wife of 42 years. Ken and Judith "Judy" (Reed) were joined in marriage June 7, 1969, and were blessed with two children and five grandchildren.
Ken was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force in 1967 and started his career as an intercontinental ballistic missile operator assigned to 12th Strategic Missile Squadron, Malmstrom AFB, Mont. He was assigned to the 4315th Combat Crew Training Squadron, at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., as a missile operator trainer.
Ken was next assigned to Grand Forks AFB, N.D., where he was selected as the executive officer to the Wing Commander and later assumed command of the 446th Strategic Missile Squadron. Ken then moved on to Strategic Air Command Headquarters, Offutt AFB, Neb., as a staff officer and Inspector General Team Chief before assuming command of the 91st Operations Group, Minot AFB N.D.
Ken then commanded the 90th Support Group, F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., and ultimately finished his career at F.E. Warren as the Vice Commander of the 90th Missile Wing, serving under General (retired) Lance Lord.
After 28.5 years, Ken retired in July 1995 at the rank of Colonel.
Ken thoroughly enjoyed his time with the Air Force and met lifelong friends that made his service more of a community than a career.
Following retirement, Ken worked for nine years as an agent for First Command Financial Planning in the Emerado, N.D., office.
Ken was an active member of Sharon Lutheran Church, Kiwanis Club-Sunrisers, the American Legion, and the Air Force Association.
Ken is remembered as a positive and cheerful man who considered himself an extremely lucky person throughout his life.
Ken was genuinely interested in people and attributed his professional success to personal attention and promotion of the Airmen who served under his command. Ken's favorite place was the lake cabin on Cormorant Lake, Minn., where the lake was always "like glass."
Ken is survived by his wife, Judy; daughters, Kristen (Benjamin) Washburn of Albuquerque, N.M., and Diane (William) MacMillan of Denver, Colo.; grandson, Owen Washburn; granddaughters, Anna and Madeleine MacMillan and Leah Washburn; and brother Arlan (Betty) Beeck of Boulder, Colo.
Ken was preceded in death by his parents and grandson, Gavin Washburn. Memorial Services were held today (Tuesday) at 11 a.m., at Sharon Lutheran Church, 1720 S. 20th St., Grand Forks, N.D. The Amundson Funeral Home of Grand Forks, N.D. is in charge of arrangements.