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Kenneth Grubaugh

Kenneth Wayne Grubaugh (Col. USAF, Ret.), 87, died Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015, at his home in Davis. He was a resident of Davis since July 1978 following his retirement from a long and distinguished career in the U.S. Air Force.

Graveside services, with military honors, are planned for 1 p.m. Monday, Feb. 9, at the Davis Cemetery, 820 Pole Line Road, with burial to follow next to his son, Kyle Grubaugh.

Ken is survived by his wife of 59 years, Lou Ellen (Gatlin) Grubaugh. Ken and Lou met in Phoenix, where Lou lived and worked, when Ken was sent there for a short training mission at Luke AFB. They were married Jan. 14, 1956, and made their first home at Cannon AFB, Clovis, N.M.

Ken is loved and honored by his family and will be remembered for his steadfast love and loyalty, for his outstanding example as a loving husband, father and grandfather, and for his pride, support and regard for all his family, near and far.

Ken is survived by two sons, Karl Grubaugh (Tanya) of Cameron Park and Jim Grubaugh of Sacramento, and a daughter, Anna Lynn Grubaugh (Neal Baker) of Windsor; two granddaughters, Lauren Grubaugh and Kerry Baker; three grandsons, Connor and Garrett Grubaugh and Kyle Baker; and numerous nieces and nephews and extended family members. Ken was born at the family farm in Van Wert County, Ohio, on Aug. 10, 1927, the sixth and youngest child of William and Ada Grubaugh. He was preceded in death by his parents; his son, Kyle Grubaugh; two sisters, Nedra Altier and Betheen Grubaugh; and his three older brothers, Glover, Boyd (Dan) and Beryl. The four brothers were all Air Force pilots.

Ken served with dedication for 29 years in the U.S. Air Force, in a variety of missions as a fighter pilot, test pilot, Air Force plant representative and later as a procurement manager. He served briefly at the end of WWII and was a combat veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars. He was chosen for training at the elite Air Force Experimental Flight Test School at Edwards AFB, Calif., and completed the program in June 1958. He was the recipient of various military commendations and awards, including most notably the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, several Distinguished Flying Crosses and Air Medals. He was stationed at various locations in the U.S. and abroad, with final assignment as director of procurement at McClellan AFB, Sacramento. He attended Bowling Green State University, Ohio, and was a graduate of Georgia Tech with a degree in architectural engineering. He later completed a master's degree in industrial engineering at Stanford University.

After retirement and the move to Davis, Ken was employed for three years as Yolo County purchasing agent, followed by two years as general services administrator for the city of Davis. He also volunteered at the UCD Friends of the Arboretum and was a set designer and builder for the Winters Theatre Company.

The family is grateful to Kaiser Hospice for the love and care provided for the past year during his illness with cancer, especially Kelly, Connie, Marilou and Yvonne. Memorial gifts may be made to a charity of one's choice.

Previous Events

Monday, February 9, 2015

1:00 PM
Davis Cemetery

820 Pole Line Road
Davis, CA 95618

Cemetery Details


Davis Cemetery

820 Pole Line Road
Davis, CA 95618

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From Zoila, Maria, Sammy, and Chuck. (From the eulogy at the funeral): I am honored to be here and to speak and I'm honored to have become so close to Ken and Lou since Zoila and I arrived in Davis over 22 years ago. I believe both of my children, Maria and Sammy, included Kenny among their first words. In fact, I can remember both of them saying in near baby talk two words frequently--call Kenny. Whenever something didn't work, whenever dumb dad couldn't figure out how to do something, whenever we had a crisis, we called Kenny. In fact, when I was once, improbably, high on a ladder able to fix something on my own, little Sammy exclaimed in shock, "you don't have to call Kenny!" And, yes, we did call Kenny. Some of our projects included ceiling fans, doors that didn't shut, beds that broke, trash compactors that didn't compact, disposals that didn't dispose (I'll stop this cheap repetition now), and much more. He built--helped me build would be a flat out lie--wonderful storage shelves in the garage as well as a storage shack behind the garage, all out of wood we found at our house. This savings or recycling made frugal Kenny particularly happy. In our previous house in East Davis he led a deck-building project on a blistering July day. He and Lou also designed our backyard, helping us pick out trees and shrubs on a hot day in Dixon and then later in Woodland. But he wasn't just handy. He also knew finances and explained to me the mysteries of buying a house, a car, a refrigerator and much more and advised me on car insurance, refinancing, and other mysteries of modern life. What is remarkable is that he was always right with his suggestions (that he made very lightly--he would never impose his opinions). I know when we considered saving money and buying our first home in Woodland, he got out an envelope and pencil--his ipad--and graphed out how he predicted prices would go (Davis going up much faster). He was right on the mark. We went from cash poor and unhandy grad students to full-fledged members of the middle class thanks to him. And our doors open, our disposal disposes, and our fans work. Kenny and I both enjoyed these projects. He would pull up and show me the tools he brought. He had a deep and justified distrust of my tool bench. We would look at the problem and usually get right to it. In the case of a ceiling fan, IKEA furniture, and anything else that came in a box, he tried very hard not to read the directions. We talked about everything, both of us checking on family members and then local Davis politics and gossip. He always had a good story or two. We often hit roadblocks, but he didn't mind--he liked the challenge. We'd figure it out and finish the project. He would often call me two or three days later when he had understood where we had gone wrong and taken a detour. I could tell story after story about his skills, sly sense of humor, generosity, and much more. But I wanted to point out two things. 1. He knew everything and was one of the smartest people I've ever met. He could explain how anything worked and also, like most smart people, never stopped learning. He'd be intrigued by something and talk to people, read about it, and then master it. He had astonishing intelligence. When we installed solar energy he came right over, looked over the pipes and panels, and immediately explained how it worked; I can't think of anything manmade that he didn't understand from top to bottom. It was though he had x-ray vision and could look into a machine and understand, immediately, its internal organs. 2. He had had astonishing humility. He never wanted any credit and he would return to his aw shucks Ohio farm boy persona if you praised him. He was extremely proud of his family, and would shift any praise towards them. He always wanted to give the credit to Lou or shine the spotlight on his kids and grandkids. In fact, praising him made him rush home.

Charles Walker Mar 8 2015 12:00 AM

So sorry to hear about Kenny. The last of "The Brothers". Always remember the get-to-gathers at the Linger Longer Farm. So proud the barn still reads GRUBAUGH 1871. Ric Grubaugh son of Ray and Grace Grubaugh

ric grubaugh Mar 7 2015 12:00 AM

A memorial video created by Ken's granddaughter Lauren Grubaugh...

Jim Grubaugh Feb 12 2015 12:00 AM

I worked with him at McClellan AFB, he served our country long and well with a long life well lived. RIP

Richard Belton Nov 30 -0001 12:00 AM

Friends and Family uploaded 6 to the gallery.

Friends and Family Nov 30 -0001 12:00 AM