Kenneth Alan Bakke, age 61, of Cokato, went home to be with the Lord Sunday, May 11, 2014, while at home surrounded by his family.
He was born Jan. 8, 1953, in Minneapolis, to Lester and Ruth (Skrien) Bakke. Ken was baptized in Crystal, MN Feb. 22, 1953; and confirmed in his faith Sept. 29, 1968, at Buffalo Zion Lutheran Church.
A 1971 graduate of Buffalo High School, Ken enjoyed and excelled in a variety of sports, and was captain of both the football team and baseball team. He went on to play football at Golden Valley Lutheran Junior College.
Ken married Barbara Nelson Oct. 18, 1975. Their marriage was blessed with three children; Nicholas, Bjorn, and Ingrid.
Ken enlisted in the US Army in 1974, and was stationed in Germany for three years. Barb was able to join him for two years.
Ken’s active duty service was followed by 14 years of service in the Air Force and Naval Reserves. He was honored to carry the flag in the Memorial Day and Cokato Corn Carnival parades as an active member of the American Legion. Ken was proud to have served his country.
He began his 33-year career in public works in Buffalo in 1978. The last 23 years of his career, Ken was the public works director of Cokato.
He was a 35-year member of the Minnesota Waste Water Operators Association. Throughout his career, Ken received many awards and honors. The two that he treasured most highly were Minnesota Waste Water Operator of the Year - 1994, and his appointment by Governor Dayton to the State of MN Department of Health Water/Wastewater Operator Certification Advisory Council.
Ken’s life of service to others included being a volunteer firefighter for 34 years, serving on both the Buffalo and Cokato fire departments, and rising to the rank of assistant chief. Ken obtained EMT training in order to serve on the Cokato Ambulance.
After retirement in 2010, Ken continued his public service by serving on the Cokato City Council. He found great satisfaction in serving the community, and reluctantly resigned after he became ill. He felt his life was enhanced by serving others.
In his youth, Ken was active in Zion Lutheran Church of Buffalo, telling others he began singing in choirs when he was “knee high to a tadpole.” He was a member of Buffalo United Methodist Church, and for the past 25 years, he was a member of Evangelical Lutheran Church of Cokato, where he served on many committees, was a member of the church council, and served as council president.
He especially enjoyed the fellowship of singing in the choir in Buffalo, and for the past 25 years in Cokato. He was known to frequently tease the choir director by requesting Elvis Presley songs, and kept the choir rehearsals on the lighter side of serious.
Ken was a Christian who embraced the love of God and Jesus and looked forward to his homecoming with the Lord.
Ken and Barb were able to travel throughout Europe during their early years of marriage, when they lived in Germany. They especially enjoyed when their parents and siblings came and traveled with them to see Europe, as well. Ken especially loved meeting his relatives in Norway and hearing the history of his family’s farm and heritage; he was very proud of his Norwegian ancestry.
Ken enjoyed spending time at the family cabin on Mille Lacs Lake. He loved to spend time in the woods, working to develop the land, splitting logs with Barb, enjoying nature, and hunting. It was a dream come true for Ken and Barb to own a home named “The Pines” up North. Many lasting memories were made there.
Ken fulfilled a life-long dream of traveling to Russia in 2005, to celebrate his and Barb’s 30th wedding anniversary. Ken loved to travel, and especially enjoyed Disney World with his children and family. He once applied for a job to work there, and he saved “the only rejection letter I got from a mouse.”
Ken is survived by his loving wife of 38 years, Barbara; children Nicholas (Jodi) of Mora, Bjorn (Crystal) of Cokato, and Ingrid (friend Josh) of Howard Lake; and grandchildren Mason, Joseph, Erica, Olof, Julia, Anja, Kylan, and Etta.
He is further survived by his father, Lester (Helen); siblings Cindy (Bob) Gustafson, twin brother Keith Bakke, Leslie (Leon) Trigg, and Kristen Bakke; mother-in-law Arlene Nelson; sisters-in-law Lynn (John) Staloch, and Jane (Loren) Van Dorp; uncle Rolf Skrien; and many nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews, and cousins. Ken was blessed to be loved by many dear friends.
He was preceded in death by his mother, Ruth; father-in-law James Nelson; and great nephew Matthew Trigg.
The funeral service took place Saturday, May 17 at 2 p.m. at Evangelical Lutheran Church of Cokato. Interment was at Swedish Mission Cemetery in Buffalo.
Visitation was Friday, May 16 from 4 to 9 p.m. at the church.
Swanson-Peterson Funeral Home and Cremation Service of Cokato and Howard Lake handled the arrangements.