Kenneth Willis passed away peacefully on November 13, 2022 at St Therese Villa in Lethbridge. He is survived by his son Adrian Dawson, daughter Karen Hagen, twin sister Vivienne Powell Thomas, his nephew Paul John Crane and nieces Janet Nutting and Vivienne Scott.
Born in Liverpool, England in 1945, Kenneth grew up in challenging circumstances which unfortunately affected much of the remainder of his life. Ken did not grow up with much in the way of material possessions. As chance would have it, Ken and his sister Vivienne did end up fighting a boy named Richard Starkey (who later changed his name to Ringo Starr) over some logs in a scrap yard, according to family legend, which is a tale that gets better with each telling. Ken lived in London in the 1960s (in the heyday of Mod culture - but we will never know for certain if he was a Mod or a Rocker) and came to Canada in 1963. He met and married his first wife Eleanor Kane (“Ellie”, mother of Adrian). Ken and Ellie parted and Ken later married Judith Barbara Fredericks (mother of Karen). Ken and Barb divorced in 1994. Ken had a long relationship with Carrie Schow for many years, however they parted ways in the 2000s.
Although Ken loved England and missed it very much, he was also very proud to be a Canadian citizen and never hesitated to mention that he lived in “the best country in the world”. On a trip to England, Ken intentionally went by the small village of “Canada” to get his picture taken at the city sign.
Ken’s favourite hobbies and activities were travelling, his model train set (majority British models with a few CP engines for variety), online shopping and playing games on his phone. Ken dearly cared for his grandchildren, Evelyn and Oscar and loved giving them Christmas gifts. Ken visited England and his family many times throughout his life and was able to achieve his dream to visit Venice in the 2000s. Ken also visited France a number of times and was particularly fond of his visit to a French village called Wissant.
Ken had many struggles throughout his life with mental health and had a hard time with relationships, and as such did not have many friends. His closest friend Martin Russel has remained in touch with him throughout the years and his nephew Paul Crane and twin sister Vivienne were his closest confidants in the last years of his life.
Ken’s passing is bittersweet, as it brings to a close a 2 year journey with dementia and many unexpected challenges, but it is with relief that we know he is finally at rest and is suffering from this cruel disease and his past traumas no longer.
The family would like to express their gratitude to everyone involved in Ken’s care in these last few years including the staff at Wetaskiwin and Taber hospitals and St Therese Villa, his homecare nurse Melissa, his physician Dr M. Steed, the many health professionals who contributed to his assessment and care during the last 2 years.
In Lieu of flowers, the family asks for a donation to the Canadian Mental Health Association or the Canadian Alzheimer’s Society.