Kennedy "Ken" L. Wilson
South Thomaston — Kennedy Lunt “Ken” Wilson, 79, passed away after a brief illness at Pen Bay Medical Center Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, with his loving wife and elder daughter by his side.
Ken was born in Elgin, Ill. Nov. 10, 1934, the only son of Ross Lyall Wilson of Thomaston and Juanita Morgan Wilson. Growing up in Millbrae and Menlo Park, Calif., he attended the Menlo Boys School and pursued his lifelong interest in music, playing trumpet from an early age. He later attended Pomona College, where he competed on the varsity soccer team and sang in the glee club. He graduated in 1953 with a bachelor of arts in theology and then turned down an offer to join the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, instead pursuing graduate studies at Stanford University.
At Stanford, Ken worked with a team doing pioneering work in particle physics at the Stanford Linear Accelerator (SLAC), completed his bachelor of science in physics, and met his soon-to-be wife Mary Ellen Long, also a graduate of Stanford University. Ken and Mary Ellen were married in Tacoma, Wash. May 8, 1955 by her father, The Rev. Harold B. Long, at his beloved Immanuel Presbyterian Church. They subsequently honeymooned in Cuba.
In 1955, Ken enlisted in the Navy and after completing Officer Candidate School was commissioned an ensign and assigned to Naval Intelligence at Ford Island, Hawaii. While there he conducted imagery analysis and joined carrier groups to brief pilots for missions over Korea. After a three-year tour he retired from active duty but remained in the Naval Reserve for more than 30 years, rising to the rank of commander. Following his Navy tour, he worked at Boeing Aircraft in Seattle while attending graduate school at the University of Washington, where he earned a master of science in physics.
Ken was asked to join the Central Intelligence Agency’s Science & Technology Directorate in 1960. His wife and family moved across the country to Falls Church, Va. where they would reside for most of the next 35 years. The CIA later sent Ken back to Stanford University for advanced studies, where he earned a master of arts in economics in 1967, a master of science in electrical engineering in 1968, and subsequently his doctorate of philosophy in industrial engineering in 1973.
At the CIA, Ken was proud to work on many ground-breaking programs and rose to become a member of the Senior Intelligence Service. He earned numerous citations for his outstanding contributions to the field of intelligence collection throughout his 28-year career, and was twice awarded Intelligence Medals for meritorious service by the director of Central Intelligence. After retiring from the agency in 1988, he worked for the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee for five years, investigating and evaluating a wide range of classified programs.
While living in Virginia, Ken became well known during the 10 years he managed his three sons’ baseball team, the multi-championship winning Falls Church National Little League Cardinals. He also advised Bethel #9 of Job’s Daughters in McLean to which both of his daughters belonged. On most autumn weekends he refereed high school and college football games, and in the off season frequently served as a judge at state and national science fairs. Ken favorite hobby was collecting and validating stamps from around the world. For many years he served as the editor of “Rossica,” the premier journal of Russian philately, and expertized stamps for the American Philately Society.
In 1992, Ken and his wife finally built their dream retirement home in South Thomaston, near a childhood family summer house, and in 1996 began living there year-round. Ken enjoyed harmonizing with the Downeast Singers and for many years was an active member of the Georges River Tidewater Association and the Wessaweskeag Historical Society. Ken became the third generation of his family to belong to Orient Masonic Lodge 15 in Thomaston and served as its master from 2002 to 2004. Affiliating with Knox Lodge 189 of South Thomaston in 2001, he also held offices there. Ken was a Knight Templar of the York Rite and a 32nd degree Mason of the Scottish Rite, and in 2009 he was presented his 50-year service medal by his son-in-law, District Deputy Grand Master Brian S. Messing.
Ken’s lifelong love of dogs came to the fore in 1997 when he established the Therapy Dog Program at Pen Bay Medical Center. Each week for more than 10 years Ken, his wife, and their beautiful blue merle collies — Shadow, Misty, Merlin, Morgan, and Jennie — would be seen visiting patients at Pen Bay needing the special attention, friendship, and love that therapy dogs freely give. The program was so successful that it was later expanded to include therapy dog reading days with special needs children attending local schools. Ken also helped to grow the area’s cadre of therapy dogs beyond his own collies by acting as a certifier of new canines and their handlers for Therapy Dogs International.
Ken loved his many years living in Maine, enjoying visits from his five children and their families, kibitzing with friends about current events, attending the Rockland Congregational Church and simply watching the tide ebb and flow on the Weskeag River. He will be dearly missed by his wife of 58 years, Mary Ellen Wilson of South Thomaston; his daughter Tiare Ann Messing and her husband Brian of Rockland; his son Keith Ross Wilson and his wife Heather of Novato, Calif.; his son Mark Kennedy Wilson of Washington, D.C.; his son Bruce Long Wilson and his wife Lynne of Ashburn, Va.; his daughter Melinda Ellen Baűmle and her husband Wolfgang of Pasadena, CA; and his nine grandchildren, Katherine Ellen Messing, Collette Marie Messing, Katelyn Marie Wilson, Erin Hillary Wilson, Bryn Elise Wilson, Christopher Ross Wilson, Michaela Ann Wilson, and the twins, Adriana Ellen Baümle and Devin Mark Baümle.
A memorial service led by Pastor Seth Jones will be held Wednesday, Dec. 4, at 10 a.m. at Rockland Congregational Church, 180 Limerock St., Rockland. In lieu of flowers the family encourages those who may wish to a make donation in Ken’s name to consider two of his favorite organizations, the Thomaston Food Pantry, c/o Jim Smith at 192 Main St., Apt 306, Thomaston, ME 04861, or the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary at 5001 Angel Canyon Road, Kanab, Utah 84741, (435) 644-2001, bestfriends.org.
To share a memory or condolence with Ken’s family, please visit his Book of Memories at bchfh.com. Arrangements are in the care of Burpee, Carpenter & Hutchins Funeral Home, 110 Limerock St., Rockland.