Kenneth William Novak was born on Clifton Avenue in St. Louis, MO on September 10, 1926. He was the second of two children of Katherine “Katie” (nee Prives) and George Adalbert Novak, joining his older brother George John.
Ken spent his early years between St. Louis and Sausalito, CA, playing baseball and supporting his father’s Red Ball Shoe Shop. Ken also participated on the track team in high school and college, including setting multiple long jump records for St. Louis Public High Schools. He was also in his high school band, playing the tenor saxophone.
Ken was a World War II veteran, having enlisted in the US Army on 29 Jan 1945 at Jefferson Barracks, MO. He served in the 6th Infantry Division, 63rd Infantry Regiment. He was deployed to Korea in September 1945 where he spent a year before being discharged in 1946.
Ken attended the University of Missouri at Columbia and graduated in 1950 with a degree in Education. It was at Columbia that Ken met and married Mary Wilmas in March 1949. In 1950, they welcomed their daughter, Linda, into the world. Ken went on to teach and coach at high schools in Granby, MO and Overland, MO.
After his separation from Mary, Ken began employment at the Mississippi Valley Barge Line. He developed a passion for this line of work and working with all of the boat captains, crew, and deckhands, inspiring many lifelong friendships.
In the early 1960s Ken met Sally (nee Blackburn) Foley, and they were married in 1967. Ken and Sally lived in St. Louis for Ken’s working years at the barge line, and later moved to Warrenton, MO when Ken retired. Sally had one son, Stuart, who gave Ken and Sally two grandchildren (Natascha and Travis) and five great grandchildren whom Ken loved dearly.
Ken’s life was rocked with the unexpected death of his beloved brother George in 1973, which was a sorrow that remained with him throughout his life. As brothers, they had a very close relationship. Ken referred to George as the “brains” and to himself as the “brawn” and claimed that together they could do anything. Ken became more than an uncle to George’s seven children – Jeff, Matt, Tom, Chris, Sue, Kathy, and Bob.
Ken shared his home “in the country”, as well as his love of the great outdoors, golf, and the St. Louis Cardinals with his children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. Ken was the family historian for the Novak genealogy tree with a memory that was unsurpassed. He was able to recount stories from years past as if they were yesterday.
Ken passed away peacefully surrounded by loved ones at the Hiawatha Care Center in Hiawatha, IA. He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother. He is survived by a large and loving extended family.
Visitation will be Monday, November 22nd from 10am – noon, with a service at noon at the Cedar Memorial Chapel of Memories, to be followed by a private burial at St. John’s Cemetery, 1340 17th Street SE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52403, where Ken will be laid to rest next to his brother. Lunch will then be served at the Cedar Memorial Family Center, 4200 First Avenue NE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Memorial contributions may be directed to the family.