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Kenneth Ray Witten
Kenneth Ray Witten, retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and a longtime resident of Floresville, Texas, joined the Lord in eternal rest Sunday evening, July 8, 2012, in the Frank M. Tejeda Texas State Veterans Home in Floresville, at the age of 76 years, 6 months, and 19 days, after a long and bravely fought battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Born Dec. 19, 1935, in Jefferson County to Donaldson “Don” and Olinda Brast Witten, Kenneth was the eldest of six children and spent the majority of his childhood in the Fairview community where his family farmed and ranched. Kenneth was a gifted athlete and was particularly well-known for his ability on the football field, which, upon graduating from Floresville High School, earned him an opportunity for a scholarship to Schreiner College in Kerrville. Choosing instead to attend A&I College in Kingsville, and participate in the ROTC program, Kenneth earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomy, and upon graduating, was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. On Sept. 28, 1963, Kenneth married Janice Louise Orts while on leave from his detachment with the 101st Airborne division during the height of the Cuban Missile crisis. Kenneth served two tours in Vietnam, once as an advisor to the Vietnamese and then as an advisor to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Kenneth’s military career spanned 20 years and included duty assignments in the Army’s Signal Corps at Fort Campbell, Ky.; El Paso; Mannheim and Stuttgart, Germany; Fort Monmouth, N.J.; Washington, D.C.; University of Colorado at Boulder; Heidelberg, Germany; and Fort Knox, Ky. While at the University of Colorado, Kenneth earned his master’s degree in telecommunications. His thesis project laid the early groundwork for the state’s emergency and interagency communications systems. Kenneth’s military awards, commendations, and service medals include the National Defense Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Tech Services Medal, Republic of Vietnam Signal Badge, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with five campaign stars, Parachutist Badge, Ranger Tab, Bronze Star Medal, Joint Services Commendation Medal, Vietnam Commendation of Gallantry with Palm Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, and Legion of Merit Medal. Kenneth was a graduate of the Armed Forces’ Airborne, Ranger, and Jungle Warfare schools. Friends and family recall him saying that he took off in many good airplanes but seldom landed in them.
Upon retiring from the service in October 1979, Kenneth and his family returned to Floresville, where he joined his father in cattle operations on land very near his boyhood home. In addition to the crossbreed cow-calf operations, Kenneth built a herd of registered Simmental/Simbrah cattle, owned and operated a custom hay cutting and baling service, briefly taught Vocational Agriculture at Floresville High School, and was a licensed real estate agent. Kenneth and his wife Janice owned and operated Don’s restaurant for five years. Kenneth also retired from the U.S. Postal Service after serving as a rural mail carrier for more than 10 years.
Kenneth loved his community and was a dedicated volunteer for many organizations and community causes, most notably the 4-H and FFA programs, the Wilson County Junior Livestock Show, and the Floresville United Methodist Church. In his spare time and later in full retirement, Kenneth was an avid golfer.
He was preceded in death by his parents; sister Betty Joe Rutledge; and brother Roy Albert Witten.
Kenneth is survived by his wife of more than 48 years, Janice Witten of Floresville; his daughter, Lisa Witten Southern and husband Mark Eric of Floresville; his son, Steven Ray Witten and wife Janna Louise of Sioux City, Iowa; his grandchildren, Lexanne Louise Southern, Laurel Rhey Southern, Thomas Ray Witten, Rachel Ella Witten, and Sarah Ann Witten; his siblings, sister Fay Ann Rogers and husband Ray, brother-in-law Paul Rutledge Sr. and wife Linda, brother Lynn Drake Witten and wife Sue, sister-in-law Donna Higgins Witten, and brother Gene Blake Witten and wife Dwan; and numerous nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and -nephews.
Of all his accomplishments, Kenneth was most proud of his family. He will be deeply missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him, said his family.
A visitation was held on Wednesday, July 11, at 5 p.m. in the Vinyard Funeral Home Chapel in Floresville, and at 9 a.m. on Thursday in the Floresville United Methodist Church.
A funeral service was held Thursday at 10 a.m. in the church in Floresville.
Interment followed in the Fairview Cemetery near Floresville.
Memorial donations may be made to Floresville United Methodist Church Endowment Fund, 1205 B St., Floresville, TX 78114.
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