Kienow Family History and Heritage

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Leonard Kenow

Len was born in Faribault, Minnesota on March 4th, 1921. As one of twelve children, it was not an easy life. They were a close-knit family and worked together to make the best life they could. He never spoke as if he was lacking for anything. He had a happy childhood and they all were able to enjoy life through each other.

When it came time to serve his country in World War II, Len went into the army. He fought in many campaigns and received many medals. The Purple Heart was just one of the medals that he won. Besides the Purple Heart, Len received the Good Conduct Medal, the American Theatre Medal, Victory Medal, and the European Theatre of Operations with 5 stars. Those 5 stars represent the battles at Normandy, North France, Rhineland, Ardennes and the Battle of the Bulge. He was wounded in Bastogne and returned to the United States after D-Day for hospitalization.

After the war, Len set out to do something with his life. He held many jobs and knew that he must learn a trade to achieve success. He decided to go into construction and would spend many hours in his own garage taping and re-taping the walls. How’s this for self-taught? He started Kenow contracting company and worked very hard. He established himself in the building world as an honest, trustworthy company to deal with. Contractors could trust that the job would be done on time and satisfactorily completed. You might say that he was a typical war veteran that took advantage of the booming building craze that would make a success of him.

Len and Alma set out to earn money, enjoy life and raise a family. They took trips with the children and alone and went to places like Florida and Las Vegas. They bought a cabin on Ann Lake in Zimmerman and enjoy every weekend that they could. Family was most important and there was nothing that they would not do to help them. Many times they would let a friend or relative come and live with them when they were in need.

He was a civic-minded person and joined the VFW and Coodies. He marched in local parades and help to raise money for good causes. Of course, he was also very willing to enjoy his fellow members and did some great parties. Life was good for Leonard and he knew it.

That is not to say that there were not some rough times to go along with the good. After many years of parties and drinking he found himself in treatment and never had another drink after that. It was amazing to him that he could still have fun and enjoy people.

After his divorce to Alma, he moved to his lake cabin to enjoy the peace and serenity of country life. He was a people person. That is what he did best. In fact, he even went to his 40th class reunion and within a few short months was married to his second wife, Vi, in a beautiful ceremony at Elim Church. After a few months together they realized that it was just the beauty of the moment and she soon moved back to Seattle and her family.

Len kept busy and continued to enjoy people and spent much time visiting friends and relatives at nursing homes, helping his children, and enjoying the quiet of his little lake cabin. He did not need much. But, he could not stay away from people. After his third marriage to Judy, the two of them did crafts and they would go to craft shows. He could sit for hours and just watch people go by. His marriage to Judy lasted many years after his divorce; he went back to his life at the cabin on the lake that he loved so dearly.

After his illness got the best of him, he had to move into town and lived in a high rise in Brooklyn Center. It is impossible to say just how many lives he was able to touch. He was the center of attention and always had a cheering word for anyone that was passing by.

Len’s life was full.

Jane writes:

Dad's sense of humor carried him through his 80 years. One of his sayings was "Cheer up things could be worse, and so I cheered up and I'll be darned if things didn't get worse"

He was a hard worker and provided well for us, I remember him working long hours and often weekends.

Dad enjoyed being at the lake cabin he had for many years, as well as fishing off his pontoon. He would feed the small fish from his dock, and enjoyed watching them swim over to get the food.

He was a good Father who was always there for his kids, and will be truly missed.

With Love,


Joanne writes -

I was asked to write some things about my dad. The other day it was said that he is an 80-year-old man. I guess I never thought of him like that. To me he was young at heart and was just worn out.

I thought about all the things this man taught me and I was amazed. Until the end, I never realized what a strong brave man he was. He was raised with 11 brothers and sisters during the depression. He saw action at Normandy and The Battle of the Bulge where he was wounded and received the Purple Heart and numerous other medals.

He raised 4 children and had a wife he loved very much. He ran a few businesses of his own but in the last few years, I saw a lot of his strengths.

Moving from his lake home to an apartment was hard. He knew he had to accept the fact that he couldn't handle keeping it up the house, lakeshore and large yard.

But of course he made the best of his new life and found new friends. The hardest thing for me to see was him leave there and going to a nursing home. He just seemed too young to loose his freedom.

I realize now that he had many more lives to touch. It became clear to me that by the trail of staff and residents that came to his room during his last few days, he was a man with a gift. That gift was the ability to make people feel important and that they were cared for.

One of the most important things he taught me was laughter.

He showed me that a sense of humor could help you through anything in life. I think that is what he will be remembered for the most.

I am going to miss him very much...but not his suffering.


And finally, Joyce remembered him with these thoughts:

I really never appreciated Dad like I should have. His talent to make people smile and feel better about them was worth more than any riches in the world. He was always so much fun to be around. Even during all the years of his suffering with his disease, he never complained or wanted anyone to feel sorry for him.

He was a strict father and only wanted the best for each of us. He helped us when he could and never looked back at the bad times.

I could go on forever about the pranks that he would play on people and the joking that he would do. He never hurt anyone and would always make it a lasting memory. April fools day and announcing the price on the back of greeting card that you gave him, was always something you could count on for a laugh.

In the last few years of his life, we were best of friends and I was blessed to be very close to him. He wanted no one to cry or feel bad. Just remember him as a good friend and know that he is in a better place. I know that he will be bringing joy there also.

My life will be a little empty without him to lean on. I just know that I can sit back and close my eyes and he is next to me in memory.

We all love you for the Father and Friend that you were!

This was written by Len's daughters for his funeral. Leonard died on 15 July 2001, and he is buried in the Fort Snelling National Cemetery, in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Last modified on 2006/1/17 by skenow

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