Kenneth Fillenwarth, 89, passed away on April 24, 2014, at Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, SD, following complications from a fall suffered while building docks at his beloved Fillenwarth Beach resort on West Lake Okoboji.
Ken was born on Aug. 4, 1924 to Arthur and Sadie (Raeker) Fillenwarth at their one-bedroom summer cottage on West Lake Okoboji, the humble beginnings of what would grow into Fillenwarth Beach, Ken's lifelong passion. Ken attended elementary and high school in Sanborn, Iowa, and spent the summers working at the resort. He became sole proprietor of Fillenwarth Beach in 1971 upon his father's death, and would grow the resort alongside daughters Lynn and Julie into the longstanding Okoboji vacation tradition that it has become.
Ken attended the University of Iowa for 2 years before being drafted into the Army, where he served combat duty in Germany during World War II and was decorated with the Bronze Star. He also served in the post-war occupation of Japan.
After his service to the country Ken returned to Iowa City, earned his undergraduate degree and entered the School of Law where the love of his life would await him. Ruth Hartkopp, a fellow law school student whom he met in the library, would become his wife in 1950. Ken joined Ruth as a partner in the Fillenwarth Lawyers Firm in Estherville, Iowa, while continuing to work at the resort. The couple was inseparable in their union for 56 years until Ruth's passing in 2006.
Ken served many roles in Estherville including as a justice of the peace for several years, a member and past commander of the American Legion, a member of the VFW, a member and Past Exalted Ruler of the Elks and a member of Kiwanis.
Ken enjoyed worldwide travels and vacations to the family condominium in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, with his wife, Ruth, while retaining a lifelong local connection with West Lake Okoboji and the resort that he so lovingly nourished. He was a steady fixture behind the desk at Fillenwarth Beach and was in his element behind the wheel of a boat, the captain of countless hours on the water in the company of family and friends. He spent most of his 89 years living the lake life, passionately to the end.
Ken is survived by his daughter, Lynn, and her husband, Richard Meyer of Arnolds Park, Iowa; and his daughter, Julie, and her partner, Gregory Drees, also of Arnolds Park. He was preceded in death by his parents, A.T. and Sadie, and sisters Joy June and Faith Fawn who passed away before Ken was born.
Visitation will be held Sunday, April 27, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Henry-Olson Funeral Home in Estherville. Funeral services will be held Monday, April 28, at 11 a.m. at the Pavilion in Arnolds Park. Memorials may be made in Ken's name to the University of Iowa or the United Calvary Methodist Church in Arnolds Park.