Kenneth E. Tribbett, 85

Published 10:24 am Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Kenneth Tribbett, 85, was born to Meldora and Elza Tribbett in December 1931. He died at St. Mark’s Living in Austin, Minnesota, on Sunday, March 12, 2017.

Kenneth grew up a farm boy around Augusta, Illinois. He lived a full, rich and long life. Always fascinated by motors and machines, there were several occasions  when, as a three year old, he got in trouble for “fixing” the family’s Model T Ford. As a very young boy, his father turned the maintenance of the farm machinery over to Ken. This gift and obsession with machines led to the Hormel Engineering Department where, after graduation from Western Illinois University in 1960. He designed machines and racks and smokehouses until his retirement in 1994. He received six Certificates of Recognition from the Hormel Company. Kenneth fought in the Korean War with the U.S. Army and was always proud to be a veteran. He earned the rank of Cpl. First Class. An interesting man, with broad interests, he studied the Civil War, art, birds, the history of trains, airplanes and cars.



He had an extensive library on these subjects. After retiring, he restored a 1939 Oldsmobile Coupe and enjoyed giving rides to his friends and children. Ken also liked to dance, ski, golf and play tennis. But biking was his greatest joy. He could easily ride a hundred miles and was able to bike in five European countries. At one time he served on the Austin Bicycle Committee. Immediately after retiring, he turned his interest and skills to the Austin Public Library, attending construction meetings and meeting with architects of the new library. He remained on the board for 10 years and was awarded the Austin Public Library Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004.

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A gentleman in every sense of the word, Ken was a man of deep faith. He served as an elder at Westminster Presbyterian Church many years and helped with boiler problems, parking lot layout and construction of the new entrance. Diagnosed with dementia in 1998, he fought to live a good life for 17 years. Up to seven years ago, he was able to travel and bike with his friends and family, for which he was grateful. He took part in three Mayo Clinic studies on Alzheimer Disease under Dr. Bradley Boeve. Later, he developed Parkinson’s Disease and moved to St. Mark’s Nursing Home, where he resided since 2014.

Ken is survived by his wife of 59 years, Carmen Tribbett; his daughter, Mary Elizabeth Lessman; grandsons, Scott Lessman and Jack Lessman (Karl and Tate Kaudy); his son John Tribbett (Bridget Bender, Quinn and Bernadette); his brother and sister-in-law, Jack and Sue Warfel; cousins, Natalie and Glenn Ayers, and Ken and Signe Carlson.

A private service of celebration will be held at a later date. Memorial gifts may be made to the Austin Public Library or to Westminster Presbyterian Church.