Kenneth Soward 103, passed away on May 20, 2019, in Kalispell.
He was born Jan. 2, 1916, to Nellie (Thompson) and Arnold Soward on his grandfather’s homestead farm southeast of Sinai, South Dakota. His father died when Kenneth was 11 months old and he moved with his mother to St. Paul, Minnesota, where he grew up.
He graduated from Mechanics Art High School in December 1933, and shortly afterwards joined the Civilian Conservation Corps. In 1935 he moved to Washington, D.C., to work for the ICC and to attend George Washington University. He graduated in 1942 from the Institute of Technology, School of Mines, Geological Engineering at the University of Minnesota. He entered the Navy on July 1, 1942 and studied photo interpretation at Harvard and in New York.
While in New York he met Aida Laura DiFonzo at a USO dance. They were married on Dec. 7, 1942. Kenneth spent the war years mainly on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands and later at Pearl Harbor. Upon returning home, he and Aida moved to Hungry Horse in 1946 where he worked with a team of geologists for the Bureau of Reclamation in the early construction stages of Hungry Horse Dam. Two daughters were born during those years, Katherine Gayvert and Patricia diStefano.
In 1952 the family moved to Great Falls where Kenneth worked for the Geological Survey, mapping of mineral deposits in Montana, Wyoming, the Dakotas and Alaska. This entailed being out “in the field” many months of the year — which he thoroughly enjoyed. He developed a lifelong love of the outdoors and exploring the many wonders of the area. He collected rocks (His family moved those rocks many times!), never took the same road twice, often foregoing the most-traveled route for the bumpy backroads, stopped at every historic or informational sign on every road, marveled at the geology of every area he passed through — all the while professing his great luck in the life he had. He was an independent Norwegian through and through.
In 1970 Kenneth and Aida moved to Casper, Wyoming. He retired in 1977, moved to Polson where he and Aida built their dream home overlooking Flathead Lake and the Mission Mountains with the “best view in the world.” He then began his “second act,” planting and running his cherry orchard for over 25 years. He grew the sweetest biggest cherries around and his seven grandchildren spent many summers learning to drive a car “up Grandpa’s road,” drive tractors, prune trees, build bonfires, change irrigation pipe, help with harvesting and play in the orchard.
Kenneth and Aida enjoyed traveling in retirement. Kenneth had a lifelong love of the stock market, alternative medicine, the outdoors and, most of all, his family and the frequent family gatherings at his home.
Kenneth was preceded in death by his parents, and his wife Aida.
He is survived by his daughters, Katherine Gayvert, and Patricia and husband Frank John diStefano; his grandchildren, Jeremy, Charles, Tim, Annie, Daniel, Michael and Francesca; great-grandchildren, Isabella, Alex and Avery; and good friend Kerry Nagel.
Graveside funeral services for family and friends will be held at 11 a.m. on May 30 at Lakeview Cemetery in Polson.
In lieu of flowers, donations to Northwest Montana Veterans Food Pantry in Kalispell would be appreciated.
Friends are encouraged to visit the website www.buffalohillfh.com to leave notes of condolence for the family. Buffalo Hill Funeral Home and Crematory is caring for the family.