Edward “Ed” H. Kemena
September 12, 1933 in Choctaw, Oklahoma
June 16, 2019 in Littleton, Colorado
Edward “Ed” H. Kemena was born on his family homestead farm in Choctaw, Oklahoma in 1933 to German immigrants Henry Kemena and Olga Karger as the youngest of five children. The Great Depression and the Oklahoma Dust Bowl shaped his early life. His father died in a farm accident when Ed was only four years old. Ed was raised in the German Lutheran Church. In 1945, his widowed mother married Homer Wallis and the family converted to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Ed completed high school at Southwestern Junior College Academy in Keene, Texas (an Adventist boarding school). After high school, Ed went to work on the family farm and apprenticed as an electrician at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City. In 1954, he entered the U.S. Army to serve as a medic as a member of peace-keeping forces in South Korea. Most of his military time was spent serving at the demilitarized zone (DMZ). After his military service, he returned to Oklahoma for a period of time and decided to pursue a college education at Union College (an Adventist college in Lincoln, Nebraska).
Although Ed’s military service was in South Korea shortly after the Korean War, he actually met his wife Violet (Sookcha) Kim during their college years in the United States. Ed met Violet at the Choctaw Seventh-day Adventist Church when she performed as a guest vocal soloist for Sabbath service. Violet was the great love of his life. She was originally from North Korea but was orphaned during the Korean War and survived through the efforts of the U.S. Marine Corps and Seoul Adventist Mission. As they attended college together, both became better acquainted during classes to improve their language skills and married while attending Union College. Ed graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1961 and was a denominational employee of the Seventh-day Adventist church for more than thirty-five years – mostly associated with service in the Adventist Book Center (formerly known as the Book and Bible House) in Denver, Colorado. Violet completed her bachelor’s degree in nursing (at Union College) and served as a nurse at Porter Adventist Hospital in Denver for more than forty years.
Shortly after Ed’s college graduation, Ed and Violet moved to Denver. They were married for sixty years and raised two sons, Lloyd “Ben” and David. The early years of their marriage were complicated by financial challenges, health issues and family losses – but eventually, their situation improved. Ed enjoyed planning family vacations to national parks, visiting family in Oklahoma and California, vegetable gardening, home building projects and teaching his sons how to hike, camp and fish in the Colorado Rockies. Ed and Violet also enjoyed music – particularly sacred music in church settings. Violet was an accomplished vocal and keyboard musician and both of their sons learned to play the piano. Ed retired in 1998 and enjoyed hiking, regional travel and spending time with his wife, sons and their families. Ed suffered a life-changing stroke in 2008 and was lovingly cared for by Violet at their home. As his illness progressed, Ed enrolled with hospice care at home followed by care at the in-patient hospice center associated with Porter Adventist Hospital (Centura Health). Ed died on Father’s Day.
Ed is survived by his beloved wife, Violet and his sons Dr. Lloyd Kemena and David Kemena. He is also survived by two grand-daughters Shannon Kemena (husband Luis Guijarro) and Dr. Nicole Lee (husband Dr. Ilkyu Lee). In 2017, Ed and Violet celebrated the arrival of great grand-son Diego Guijarro (son of Shannon and Luis) who also survives. Ed outlived his four siblings (Carl, Edwin, Arthur and Florence) by more than thirty years, but is survived by nephew Steven Smouse and nieces Kathy (husband John) Williams, Sharon (husband Jon) Dickerson and Mary (husband John) Lindfors. He is also survived by first cousins June Oakley, Dick Ninness, Shirley (husband George) Palmer and Dr. Alan (wife Karen) Waldvogel. Ed was also connected to a supportive church family at the Denver Korean Seventh-day Adventist Church for more than 50 years.
Ed was a quiet man who preferred to highlight the activities and accomplishments of his family and friends. Honoring his values and wishes, Ed desired a military burial at Fort Logan National Cemetery without funeral or memorial service, but a family remembrance is planned next year.