The life of Kenneth D. Carlson will be celebrated on Friday, June 22, at 11 a.m. at Mountain Christian Church. Pastor Terry Cederblom is officiating. Ken passed away on June 6, 2018, at the age of 93.
Ken was born Feb. 14, 1925 to William and Hildur Carlson. Ken and his wife, Grace, retired to Oakhurst in 1988 and founded Echo Valley Ranch organic apples with the Kuester, Elwell, Reeve and MacKenzie families.
The Carlsons were active at Mountain Christian Church and supported Manna House, Helping Hands Pregnancy Center, the local Ministers Association, International Students Association, and many other community groups. In 2012, Ken moved to a retirement community in southern California to be closer to his children.
Ken trained as a Marine pilot in World War II and served as a 1st Lieutenant in the Marine Air Corps. He took a commission as a reserve Navy Chaplain after the war, serving on active duty two weeks a year and one weekend a month, counseling many a young sailor and conducting many weddings. He retired as a Commander.
After his active military Ken transferred to Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota on the G.I. Bill, where he met his wife, Grace Martinson. They were married June 30, 1949, in Manistique, Michigan.
Ken earned his B.A. in 1949, and a Master of Divinity at Bethel Seminary in 1953. He went on to earn an M.A. in Education at the University of Minnesota, where he also served as a Chaplain.
Rev. Kenneth Carlson served as a seminary intern at Elim Baptist Church in Minneapolis while finishing his M.Div. coursework. Daughters Sandy, Laurie, and Barb, followed by son Greg, were born in Minneapolis. The Swedish congregation took a liking to the young family, and Sandy and Laurie used to sing in Swedish for the services from time to time.
Ken and Grace moved to Fort Worth, Texas, in 1957, where he earned a Doctor of Religious Education from Southwestern Theological Seminary. To support his family, he worked as a salesman, first for Fuller Brush, then at Leonard’s Department Store in the refrigerator and freezer division.
Ken was called to Melrose Baptist Church in Oakland, Calif., in 1960 as Minister of Christian Education. His enthusiastic vision for educating everyone from children to adults in the Word of God led to a record average attendance of 1,000 in Sunday School each week.
Late in 1963, he accepted a call to Calvary Baptist Church in Gardena, where he served as Minister of Christian Education until his retirement in 1988. He also taught briefly at Biola Seminary and worked for twenty years as a L.A. Unified School District mathematics teacher.
Grace’s parents, Rev. Harold and Mrs. Delpha Martinson, retired to Bass Lake, Calif., in 1960. Many happy summers were spent there with Grace’s sisters and their families, and when the time came, Ken and Grace sought property in the mountain area for their retirement in 1988. Echo Valley Ranch became the gathering place for the Carlson and Kuester children, their spouses, and later their grandchildren, for vacations and holidays.
Ken’s wife, Grace, preceded him in death in December of 2006. He is survived by his sister, Shirley Burgstahler; his four children Sandra, Laurel, Barbara, and Greg; their spouses; grandchildren David and Jennifer, Lindsey and Amanda, Michael, James, and Alison, Ben, Melody, and Claire, and their spouses; and four great grandchildren. He will also be missed by many dear relatives and friends.
Mountain Christian Center is located at 40299 Highway 49 in Oakhurst.