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Kenneth "Ken" Petty '76 March 16, 2024 10:39 AM updated: March 16, 2024 10:45 AM

Kenneth Ray Petty 

June 28, 1945 - February 25, 2024 

Kenneth Ray Petty, born in Troup, Texas on June 28, 1945, peacefully passed away in Magnolia, Texas on February 25, 2024 at the age of 78. Ken had overcome many things in his life, but this unexpected and brief battle with cancer was not to be one of them.

Though not the studious sort to begin with, he exceeded his family’s expectations by earning a bachelor’s degree from Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas; growing into his academic ability, he added to this a masters and then a doctorate degree from Texas A&M University. He worked as a drafting professor at Texas A&M and was a proud Aggie, wearing his Aggie ring until his passing.

On October 1, 1966, Ken exchanged vows with Nancy (Lewis) in the Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church in Houston, Texas. Later they were sealed in the Manti, Utah Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Temple on August 22, 1972.

He rarely spoke of his time as an Army Combat Medic in the delta region of Vietnam in 1968. From this service, he received a Purple Heart medal, the Army Commendation Medal, and the Bronze Star with a “V” device for valor and heroism.

Ken and his family moved to Utah in 1981 where Ken became a professor at Utah State University and then worked at ATK Thiokol as the manager/lead checker in the tool engineering department working for a time with the space shuttle program.

Ken had a passion for old cars and he showcased his Corvettes at various car shows and the Cache Valley Cruise In. He relished watching car races and even participated in racing himself. Ken found solace in nature, often taking leisurely walks along the canal by Lundstrom Park capturing the wildlife and beautiful landscapes with his camera lens. Ken was a private person and preferred small groups to large gatherings, but loved his family and kept in touch with them through his sometimes daily nature-photo e-mails. He also enjoyed golf, especially with his beloved Uncle Earl.

A culinary enthusiast, Ken often joked about opening “Ken’s Southern Cooking Café,” delighting friends and family with his specialties like chili, pork stew, and frittatas, each infused with his secret ingredient, which he challenged others to guess.

Among his cherished experiences, Ken treasured his 19 seasons working at Yellowstone National Park, a place he held dear to his heart. He took thousands of pictures of the scenery and animals there and his long-lasting impact on the park can be seen in the many wood projects he worked on in several of the lodges.

Ken is preceded in death by his parents: Bertha Mae Murphy and Roy W.C. Petty. He is survived by his wife, Nancy (Lewis), brother Bynum, children, Karen (Craig) West, Mark (Sherrie Boyle), and Eric (Jen Lowry); 14 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. His memory will forever live on in the hearts of those who knew and loved him.

A celebration of Ken’s life will be held on a hill in Avon, Utah on a sunny afternoon this spring. 


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