On Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, family and friends of Shasta County Pioneer Kenneth”Ken” Herman Doelker gathered at Allen and Dahl Palo Cedro to attend a service to celebrate his life.
If you knew Ken, you would get a kick out of knowing that he planned this service which included the songs, “Only Here For A Little While” by Billy Dean and ending the service with “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” by The Tokens. Besides the music and picking photos for a slideshow, Doelker wrote his own eulogy which gives a look at the some of the pioneer families in our community.
Even if you never had the good fortune to meet Kenneth Doelker, readers will find interesting in some of our local histories.
“I was taught no matter how bad the situation is, you never let go of the rope.”
The Life of Kenneth Doelker in his words:
Kenneth Herman Doelker “Papa Bear “was born on April 17, 1935, in Redding, CA on Adam Doelkers homestead in Oak Run to Minnie H Von Allwordon Doelker and Albert C. Doelker. He had three brothers. The eldest Heinz Von Allwordon, nicknamed Whitey was born in Hamburg Germany in 1915. The second eldest brother Albert H. Doelker was born in 1933 and his little brother Robert Lee Doelker was born in 1941.
Some of the highlights of his earlier years that Ken asked for us to share with you today started back in 1939 in Yuba City on the Amerall Dairy farm, his mother rolled their 1938 Plymouth 4 door into Clough Creek. Albert and Ken were in the back seat. The steering column was pulled out but luckily no one was hurt.
In 1941 the family moved to Millville to the Webb place on Clover Creek, Albert and Ken would walk five miles down Clover Creek to attend Millville Grammar School. He started first grade there. After three days, they were getting home too late, so his mother had them walk over to Oak Run two miles away to the Hunt Estate to attend the Wilkinson School instead. Heinz his eldest brother, took Albert and Ken and blazed a trail for them to follow coming home. That night though they got off the trail and were lost. Coming to a creek, in the dark, the trio didn’t no which way to get home. Not until they heard their mother holler with a hog call. She was relieved to see that her boys were okay. Mrs. Keggy their teacher started picking them up and taking them to the Wilkinson, a one-room school that had eight students. Many times, the creek would be up though, so George Hunt would give them a ride across the creek on horseback. Georges wife Cleta Hunt would make them a lemon meringue pie about once a week, and they would carry it all two miles home. Ken said the pie always made it home. The Doelker’s ate a lot of wild pigs, deer, salmon, quail, doves, pheasants, and figs that were his father’s favorite.
September 1941, they had no electricity, no running water, candles on a Christmas tree for lighting and a battery-operated radio. Early one morning his father took his mother in a 1937 Ford pickup with Ken and Albert riding in the back seat, to Mercy hospital in Redding where his younger brother Robert was born.
In December 1941 during world war II, Clover Creek water had come up so they would park the pickup across the creek and would use a swinging footbridge to cross it. Ken said it was “very, very” good salmon fishing.
In 1942 the family moved to Yuba City and bought a ranch. They raised wheat and hogs. Ken was in 2nd grade. One day while riding on the bus, the bus driver started quizzing Albert and Ken about their mother. Asking if she used earphones or talked into a microphone joking that their mother was a German spy as she had been born in Hamburg, Germany.
They lived about a ½ mile off the main road between some peach orchards. One day while getting off the bus Ken got off earlier before Albert and walked about halfway down to some beehives he had found. He waited in the orchards until Albert approached. When Albert got close Ken rocked the beehives creating a storm of bees and Albert got stung bad. Or in Ken’s words “the bees got him good!”. Ken took off running home with Albert on his heels. His mother was washing clothes in the wash house and when Ken ran up to the door, Albert hit him in the head with a huge clod of dirt. Ken fell at his moms’ feet out cold. When he came too, his mother was beating the heck out of Albert. She found out what Ken had done so he got it too.
Heinz Von Allworden, his eldest brother changed his name to Jack White Clair and went by “Whitey”. He got his citizenship and joined the 8th Air Force and went to Lincoln Nebraska. This is when Ken’s Airforce passion took interest and he idolized Howard Hughes. This same year his mother ended up wrecking their 1937 Ford pickup. They put it in the barn for his father to work on in between working for the Hunt Estate in Oak Run.
In 1943, they fixed the Ford pickup and moved to the Dan Hunt place on Swede Creek Road that Grandpa Adam Doelker owned in 1884. Ken attended grammar school at North Cow Creek from 1943 till 1948. He took two years in one and attended 6th and 7th grade there.
In 1945, Ken took his first chew of Copenhagen.
In 1946, the family leased the George Rickert Ranch and he attended Lone Tree School. Their family hand-milked 40 head of dairy cows for eight months. His mother would milk 20 head, Albert would milk 10 and Ken would milk 10. His mother would usually come and help him finish his. They moved back to Swede Creek Road and Albert started high school. Ken continued to milk cows and raise hogs.
In 1948, Ken attended Shasta Union High School and joined the Future Farmers of America. In 1950 he had made state farm and was chosen as a California delegate to the National Convention in Kansas City. This was his first trip on a train out of California. Albert and Ken showed at all the local fairs with dairy cattle, sheep and hogs and did very well. His mother in the winter would go to Banker Harns and borrow money and they would use their success in showing animals as collateral to borrow the money. In 1950, Ken went to the California State Fair showing hogs and sheep and was very successful. At the time he drove a 1934 Chevy truck with double racks and twin straight stacks which he had made in farm shop that he would take the farm animals in.
In 1952 he won the round-robin in showmanship at the Anderson fair. He also boxed for two years and ran track for three years. he graduated with honors in his class and won the California bankers award in the future farmers.
Ken said that every time they would butcher hogs they would scald it in a 55-gallon barrel and when the water ashed and it was hot you could barely drag your finger through it. They never wasted any of it. They also ate a lot of venison and packed sausage and his mother would jar squirrel.
Albert joined the navy bound for Korea. Ken worked swing and relief shifts at Nova Ply. He attended Shasta College for three years and received 1.5 years credit. He quoted himself as the best Salmon fisherman from 1943 to 1954 on North Cow Creek. While the fishing he refers to wasn’t legal as it was done with pitchforks, he said it was productive.
Also, in 1952 the old Dan Hunt house burned down and everything was lost. Ken set to work precutting lumber that was donated by Knotley. Rebuilding was done in one weekend by Ken Chandler, Harvey Chandler, Tom Hart, Jack Clair and Ken. The building still stands, and they always had a huge garden. Ken and Albert sold produce to Hugh Axner and the mailman.
In 1955 they sold the ranch and moved to Tobiasson tract. He went to work at Nettleton Forrest products where he operated forklift and got his class I. then, He hauled poles from Fort Jones to Anderson.
Ken married the love of his life Joan Eileen Crean in Reno Nevada that year and they started a family together having four kids. Kenneth Doelker, Wayne Doelker, Vicki Harmon and Ronald Doelker. They resided in Redding raising their family.
In 1975, Ken started his own construction company “Doelker Construction” where the whole family pitched in and worked. He built a two-story shop on his property that him and Joan purchased off Clough Creek where they ran their business. He was known for his high quality of work and his giving heart, always wanting to lend a hand to someone in need. He employed a lot of people through the years and worked all over in different states. He was quoted saying “I managed to feed my family and I made a lot of friends, a lot of good friends.”
Ken had a passion for traveling through the years including Switzerland, Australia and Alaska. He continued his love for fishing and hunting. He also collected old cars, antiques, John Wayne memorabilia, enjoyed playing cribbage and poker and collected power poles. He referred to himself as the “power pole king of northern California”. He organized fundraisers with such off the wall games as chicken chip and bull chip bingo and worm races. When he retired you could always find Ken on a piece of equipment working on his property or in the corner of his office watching old John Wayne movies and cooking up some food such as corn beef and cabbage or a pot of beans which was his favorite. His pinch of Copenhagen was his secret ingredient. He also enjoyed his retired life by fixing things on his property and when he wanted a break, he would sit in the back barn that he had built, in his recliner, listening to his battery-operated radio. Before he went home every night he would always stop by family and friends houses who lived close by in his Chevy pickup and wait out front and honk his horn to check and make sure everyone was doing good. Ken loved his kids, all his grandkids, great-grandkids and his friends, and would always check in to make sure everyone was okay and didn’t need anything.
Ken was a member of— Independent Order of the Odd Fellows, Palo Cedro Lions, Lifetime member of Telephone Pioneers of America, P.R.C.A twenty-year Gold Card Committee, Benefactor Member Boy Scouts of America Camp Lassen, Honorary member of Shasta County Peace Officers Association, Honorary Board of Director Redding Rodeo Association, Board of Director Bobby Jones Mother’s Day Cottonwood Rodeo, 45 years Member Operating Engineers Local 3 and a member of Shasta County Cattlemen’s Association.
Ken’s idols included:
Howard Hughes – Hughes Tool and Co. T.W.A Hughes helicopter.
General George Patton – Financed his armored division with his own money and he wanted to keep the Russians out of Germany.
John Wayne – Ken’s two trips to Switzerland with Tomansini, Ken was referred two as John Wayne’s double.
Ronald Ragan – Best announcer, best governor and best U.S. President.
Ken always said there would be a lot of people at his funeral with a grin and a spit “some friends…some family…but most would want to make sure he was the S.O.B in the box”.
Ken “Papa Bear” Doelker was one character that we will surely miss.