Kenneth Leroy Kerch, 80, rural Columbia City, died at 8:46 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, at Parkview Regional Medical Center, Fort Wayne where he had been a patient for the past three weeks.
He was born Oct. 8, 1938, in Allen County, the only child of the late Lawrence August and Ada Bernice (Rumsyre) Kerch. His formative years were spent in Washington Township, Whitley County where he attended Washington Center School and graduated from Columbia City High School in 1956.
On Sept. 9, 1961, he was united in marriage to Marilyn Ruth Hire. They made their first home in Columbia City. On Jan. 19, 1962, he entered the U.S. Army. The couple moved to Oakland, Calif. Following his honorable discharge in 1965, the couple returned to Columbia City. In 1969 they moved to rural Columbia City.
He worked for International Harvester, Fort Wayne from 1965 to 1983. He then joined Whitley Feeds and Nutritional Research, South Whitley where he worked until his retirement in 1998.
He was a member of St. John Lutheran Church, Columbia City where he served as a trustee, groundskeeper, and on the planning committee and building committee. He was a member of the UAW-Fort Wayne.
He was an accomplished carpenter building barns at his sons-in-law property, assisting with the church building, and general repair work. He enjoyed collecting and restoring antique garden tractors. He had an affinity for odd items and liked collecting them. But his priority was always his family and he loved spending time with his children and grandchildren.
He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Marilyn; three daughters, Lorraine O. (Gary) Kyler, Vallory L. (Kent) Opliger, and Kendra M. (Brad) Peterson, all of Columbia City, seven grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren.
The funeral service is 10:30 a.m. Monday at St. John Lutheran Church, 2465 W Keiser Road, Columbia City. Burial is at the Nolt Cemetery. Visitation is 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Smith & Sons Funeral Home in Columbia City and 1 hour prior to the service at the church.
Preferred memorials are to St John Lutheran Church or the Whitley County Agricultural Museum.