Kenneth J. Pemberton passed away on Dec. 4, 2018, at Holy Family Hospital in Spokane, surrounded by his loving family.
He was born in Libby to John and Karen (Fredricks) Pemberton on June 18, 1961. He, along with his sister Kimberly, and brother David “Chris,” lived in Libby until the family moved to Columbia Falls in 1968. Ken attended school in Columbia Falls and graduated from Columbia Falls High School with the Class of 1979. While in school, Ken was a member of the high school choir and is remembered by family and friends for his beautiful tenor voice. As a member of the city swim team, he received several ribbons and was famous for his powerful “butterfly” stroke. He was also a ferocious bowler with a mean left hook that took him to state competitions.
Following graduation, Ken pursued his love of music, and attended North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, majoring in music. While he did not complete his degree, he never lost his love for music. Throughout his life Ken continued to sing for events, including family weddings and anytime there was a gathering of family or friends.
Ken was a gifted and passionate chef and that eventually became his vocation. He spent most of his adult years working at several restaurants throughout the Flathead Valley. He started his career working alongside his mother at the Brass Lantern Cafe. Over the years he also worked at the Columbia Cafe, Park Inn, Montana Coffee Traders, King Cole’s and Fabulous Foods in Kalispell. Ken also held several jobs as a bartender throughout the valley. He had a great work ethic and was a “people person.” He had a sharp wit, a great laugh and a reputation for “telling it like it is.”
Ken was also active in the Kalispell Jaycees for several years, and one of his favorite things was dressing up as “Santa” and giving back to children.
Ken loved to travel and was fortunate to be able to take several trips over the years with his Aunt Betty and Uncle Ken Anderson and his cousins Barbara Anderson and Karen Anderson. He so appreciated his time with them. There are too many trips to list them all, but he cruised to Alaska more than once and had visited Las Vegas several times. In Minnesota he attended a Vikings game; in New York he fulfilled one of his dreams and attended a Barbra Streisand concert, as well as Phil Collins. His favorite trips, however, were to Hawaii and California.
In 2000, Ken moved to Spokane to be near his sister and her family while waiting for a liver transplant, which he received in 2002. Even though Ken would battle numerous health issues while recovering from his transplant, he eventually returned to work in Spokane for several years until forced to retire due to ill health. In 2013 he was diagnosed with pulmonary asbestosis as a result of exposure to asbestos fibers during his childhood in Libby. It would be his final battle. With all that he endured, he kept a smile on his face and a song in his heart. Even in his last hours, he sang Christmas carols with his family.
Ken is survived by his father John Pemberton of Kalispell, sister, Kimberly Cavalar of Spokane, and her children, Angela (Cavalar) Hansen, Nicholas Cavalar of Spokane and Antonio Cavalar of Denver; Angela’s children, Carter and Maddox Julien and Ryder Hansen; Nicholas’ children Gracie and Seth Cavalar.
He is also survived by Libby cousins: Karen Stickney, Caral Hilliard, Gary Wood, Joe Wood and their families, as well as numerous other family members in Montana and his Pemberton family in Minnesota.
Ken was preceded in death by his mother Karen Pemberton, brother David “Chris” Pemberton and infant brother Mark John Pemberton. He was also preceded by his maternal and fraternal grandparents, as well as his aunt, Connie Wood.
The family will be holding a service to honor Ken at 1 p.m. Jan. 12 at the Columbia Falls Mortuary, per his wishes. Come share and celebrate his life.
Cards or condolences for the family can be sent to Kim Cavalar, at 3928 North Whitehouse, Spokane, WA 99205.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to Wings Regional Cancer Support. Donations can be mailed to: Wings, P.O. Box 1160, Libby, MT 59923.