Ralph Franklin Kenner


January 4, 2024

Ralph Franklin Kenner or "Shorty" to his siblings, and simply "Kenner" to all those who knew him, was born on Friday the 13th of March, 1925, in Carthage, Missouri. Kenner was the third of seven children, of which only two remain. He attended school in Carthage all the way to the sixth grade, when he suddenly quit school after receiving a beating from his teacher. From there he did whatever jobs he could do to help with the family expenses.

His father died when Kenner was just 16, from a mining accident, which left his mother at home with five younger siblings to care for. Kenner worked many jobs during those times: farmer, laborer, and horse wrangler and it was his horse wrangler experience that landed him in the US Army Calvery when he joined the service in 1944 to fight in WWII.

After completing boot camp at Ft. Riley, Kansas, Kenner was sent to the South Pacific theatre to fight in the war against Japanese, eventually landing in Luzon, Philippines. Sometime after his arrival he was tasked with cleaning some new carbine rifles in preparation for the following day's offensive. It was during this task that he suffered severe burns over about 50% of his body as the result of an accident involving solvent vapors and an open flame, which was being used to illuminate the work tent. He was rushed to the infirmary and was eventually shipped to a hospital in Manila where he spent the next several months recuperating. When he became healthy enough to return to his post, he was assigned duty as a chauffeur for a captain under the command of General Douglas MacArthur.

At the end of his stint with the Army in 1946, he returned to the States and eventually found his way to Puget Island to visit an army buddy, Einor Olsen. It was during this visit that he met Jean Louise Wika. From that moment on, they spent nearly every moment together, and within three months were married at the little Puget Island Lutheran Church on Oct. 6, 1946.

In the following years and after the birth of two girls and one boy, Kenner moved his family to southern California in a search of work. The Kenner family remained in California until 1972 when Kenner and Jean returned to Puget Island, where the rest of the family eventually followed.

Kenner worked many jobs, owned his own drilling business, and traveled to Alaska every year, beginning in 1951 for commercial fishing. He built two fishing boats with his own hands: one for Alaska fishing and the other for Columbia River gillnetting. All this with only a 6th grade education.

Kenner made many friends and always greeted everyone with a warm smile. He was always ready to help-out anyone in need when called upon and was a well-known figure in the Wahkiakum County area.

Kenner was preceded in death by his wife, Jean and one grandson, Cole. He is survived by one brother, Donald and one sister, Ella Mae. Also, three children, Sandra, Susan and Reid, nine grandchildren, fifteen great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.

Kenner's remains will be laid to rest next to his love, Jean, at Greenwood Cemetery on Jan 5, 2024. In lieu of flowers, we ask that donations be made to the local VFW, the Puget Island Volunteer Fire Department, and local Hospice Care.


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