Kenneth Eugene Gatlin, 68, the best big brother ever, walked right into heaven on April 12, 2021. We are sorry not to have more days with Kenneth, but he is not sorry to now live in the presence of his Lord.
Kenneth was born June 23, 1952, to Calvin and Joyce (Lauritsen) Gatlin and would be the oldest of eight children. His parents brought him home to the Lauritsen Homestead north of Gem, Kansas. Before he turned four, Kenneth, moved to Colby, Kansas, where he resided until this January when he moved to Pratt, Kansas to be close to family.
Kenneth graduated from Colby High School in 1970 and Colby Community College in 1972 with an Associate of Arts degree in pre-engineering. But this was not the end of school for him! During the next 30+ years, he tutored his siblings and many nieces and nephews at one time or another. He patiently helped at any hour of the day or night, even with college math classes he had never taken. A math whiz, Kenneth challenged his nieces and nephews with complicated word problems at family gatherings and was thrilled when they eventually could solve these problems.
Kenneth was known to his siblings as the "Loan Shark.” He was generous with his time and treasure, never denying a sibling’s request. Among other things, he made car loans, ensured a sister made it to her job interview by buying new tires after she had two blowouts, wired money to a brother whose car broke down in Nevada on his way to school in California, and co-signed on a credit card so that brother would not be stranded again. He loaned his car to siblings for months at a time while continuing to pay the car insurance. A phone call to Kenneth made everything right. What would we have done without Kenneth looking out for the rest of us?
Throughout his life, Kenneth was on the move in all kinds of vehicles. He started riding a tricycle and soon graduated to riding a bike downtown to get the mail. The summer following 6th grade, Grandpa and Grandma Lauritsen requested Kenneth’s help with harvest, driving trucks and combines. Later he taught all his siblings to drive a stick shift. He just loved being at John Deere with Dad. From 8th grade on he spent most of his summers working at John Deere repairing all kinds of farm equipment. Kenneth had a keen understanding of equipment computer operations and was the preferred mechanic by many farmers.
Around 2004, Kenneth heard of a little girl who perished because there was no one to drive the ambulance. This spurred Kenneth to action. After working at John Deere for forty years, he trained as an Emergency Medical Technician and then became the Director of EMS Services in Thomas County. He also maintained and drove the ambulance. Kenneth was Mom’s personal driver and was willing to take her anywhere for a family gathering. Regardless of the location, Kenneth willingly served as chauffer and even more willingly beat anyone in a board game.
Kenneth was a world traveler and relished learning new things. He traveled to New Zealand, Australia, Israel, Greece, Panama, most of western Europe, among other destinations, including five visits to relatives in Denmark. Kenneth was known as a jovial
friend. He was Mom’s traveling companion on Golden Passport trips. He served on the board of both the Western Plains Arts Association and Pickin’ on the Plains and regularly took Mom to their concerts. A faithful son, he stood by Mom’s side always, tenderly caring for her in her last days. What a son!
Kenneth woke each day to put in an honest day’s work helping others, rather than thinking of himself. He worked tirelessly and played joyfully (especially if a game of Rook was on the line!). His life was undergirded by his faith in almighty God. Kenneth died as he lived - with his boots on.
Kenneth was preceded in death by his parents and grandparents. He is survived by all seven of his siblings: Wilma Lauber (Mike) of Hill City, KS, Rita Crews (Paul) of Neosho, MO, David Gatlin (Oleva) of Shell Knob, MO, Dorothy Macy (Kenton) of Charleston, IL, Diana Weatherford (Kim) of Flower Mound, TX, Duane Gatlin (Christina) of Tomball, TX, and Terry Gatlin (Michelle) of Pratt, KS; sixteen nieces and nephews (and their spouses): Amber Morris (Philip), McKinzie Newman (Joe), Matthew Crews, Maria Crews, Nathan Macy, Aaron Macy, Stacia Macy, Emma Weatherford, Abby Weatherford, Jonathan Gatlin, Andrew Gatlin, Sarah Gatlin, Elijah Gatlin, Samuel Gatlin, Gabby Gatlin, and Luke Gatlin; and seven great nieces and nephews: Ethen, Shaelyn, Tyler, Bryden, Payton, Anna, and Paul. The family would like to thank Parkwood Village in Pratt, Kansas, for welcoming Kenneth into their community.
Kenneth's Celebration of Life was Saturday, April 17th at 2 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Colby, KS (515 W Fourth Street, Colby, KS). The family received guests from 1-1:45 p.m. before the service. Following the service, those wanting to attend the burial at Lone Star Cemetery joined a caravan from the church to the cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to Colby First Presbyterian Church or Western Plains Arts Association (1225 S Range Ave, Colby, KS 67701). Arrangements under direction of Baalmann Mortuary.
Posted online on April 21, 2021