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Kenneth L. and Audrey L.'s Story

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Kenneth "Ken" Lee Swartzendruber, 76, and Audrey Louise Swartzendruber, 77, both of Traverse City, passed away unexpectedly while traveling down U.S. 2 in the Upper Peninsula on Monday July 31, 2017. They were on their way back home from visiting their daughter, Stephanie, in the Keweenaw Peninsula and were rear ended by a semi-truck.
Ken was born in Wellman, Iowa, on Jan. 21, 1941, and Audrey was born in Midland on May 3, 1940. They married on Nov. 5, 1966 and together raised a daughter, Stephanie.
Ken was self-employed in sales of high quality stainless steel cookware and other household items for 54 years. Audrey was the best mom on earth and was a tireless volunteer throughout her daughter's education at the Pathfinder School.
When you think of Ken, watch a baseball game (he would prefer you make it the Cubbies). Watch a college basketball or football game (he would prefer the Iowa Hawkeyes). Keep receipts and stay organized, your children will be thankful someday. Ask questions. Be genuinely interested in what other people do and say. Buy quality cookware! Love the planet and think about your impact on it. Be good to others and always support the little guy when you have a choice of businesses, forget the corporations. Ride your bicycle. Invite some friends out for dinner and insist on picking up the entire tab, even if you're not flush with cash. Be sure to have a martini and a glass of wine with dinner. Always put education first - a top priority for your children. Wash your car weekly, even in the freezing cold, it's the only way to get close to driving a single car one million miles (Dad got close at 898,000). Get out the cards and play solitaire or invite some friends over to play cards on a Saturday night. Always eat desert.
When you think of Audrey, invite someone that you haven't talked to in a while over for a cup of tea and make sure you call them with the invitation. Take a long drive through the county to go to a favorite restaurant or to pick up fresh fruit from an orchard. And, stop at every garage sale or estate sale you see along the way. Love your animals, especially your cats. Have a garden. Bake a pie or cookies from scratch and take them to a friend. Visit your local library and read a book or magazine - the paper version. Try new foods when you get the chance. Subscribe to your local newspaper. Talk to strangers because you never know where you might make a new friend. Don't be afraid to wear crazy shoes, purses or reading glasses. Go for a bike ride. Go for lots of bike rides, even if you're tired or don't think you feel like it because it will make you feel better. Know that there will be tough times and situations in life, but you're just going to have to put on your big girl panties and do what needs to be done! Don't spend time dwelling on it, just do it. Be forgiving and don't hold grudges. Be a good friend. She was Stephanie's best friend. She was the best mom in the world.
Surviving Ken and Audrey is their daughter, Stephanie, of Hancock.
A celebration of life will take place at a later date. A completely green burial has taken place at the Peninsula Township Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations in memory of Ken and Audrey Swartzendruber to Interlochen Public Radio and the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities in Traverse City.
Interlochen Public Radio was a constant in their lives and was always on. Their lives would have never been the same without it; http://interlochenpublicradio.org/#stream/0.
The Groundwork Center works to build healthy, sustainable communities in Northern Michigan and is also working to close the Line 5 Pipeline that runs under the Straits of Mackinaw, which they were both enraged about. Mom, and especially Dad, were passionate about protecting this planet and preserving the sense of community and small town values that brought them to Traverse City over 50 years ago; http://www.groundworkcenter.org/projects/oil-water-dont-mix/.
And finally in honor of the Swartzendrubers, remember to call your loved ones and tell them how much you love them.
Kindly share thoughts and memories of Ken and Audrey with the family at www.reynolds-jonkhoff.com.
Published on August 6, 2017
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