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Kenneth "Kenny" Gordon Kasten, age 85, passed away Dec. 20, 2011, at Southeast Hospital in Cape Girardeau, due to complications after a valiant battle with pneumonia.
He was born Aug. 25, 1926, in Jackson, to Louis William and Frances Philpott Kasten, and was a lifelong resident and businessman in Jackson. His mother died when he was 9 months old, and he was raised by his aunt, Edna Kasten, until his father remarried. When Kenny was 12, his father married Edna Longehenny, who was a wonderful mother to Kenny and his two siblings, Vernon and Dorothy.
At the age of 15, when he was a freshman in Jackson High School, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. By the time he was a senior, Kenneth had already joined the Marine Corps. He served his country during World War II in Company G and was a Purple Heart recipient. Being a Marine was an honor he wore proudly yet quietly. Kenny was fond of saying, "I entered boot camp a boy and left a Marine." Kenny was a part owner of Ceramo Co. in Jackson, retiring at the age of 81. He obtained his degree in ceramic engineering from Rolla in 1950, and was able to use on a daily basis his genius and ability to invent machines and presses that Ceramo used for making their clay pots. He also shared his working knowledge with the ceramic industry so that all could benefit from advances he made. Companies from as far away as Italy came to see the presses that he put together from used parts from schematics that he held in his head.
Kenny was a devout Lutheran and a lifelong member of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Jackson. He served as a Sunday school teacher and choir director, sang in the choir and was instrumental in the establishment of Saxony Lutheran High School.
His other affiliations include the Jackson Rotary Club, where he was a past president and Paul Harris Fellow; a founder and longtime member of Kimbeland Country Club; served as an ambassador for Lutheran Family and Childrens Services in Cape Girardeau; and was recently nominated as an Alumni of Influence at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla.
Kenny was a beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. The only thing more important to him than his family was his Lord.
Kenny married Margaret Evelyn Voges. Their marriage was blessed with three wonderful children, Robert (Anne) Kasten of Houston, Bruce (Valerie) Kasten of Carbondale, Ill., and Ann Steck of St. Louis.
He was blessed again when the Lord brought to him Joycelyn P. Wisely Kline, and with their union, his family increased with the addition of Joycelyn's two sons, Klif (June) Kline of Coulterville, Ill., and Kim Kline of Orlando, Fla.
He took great joy in his grandchildren, Katie Kasten Hodak, Matthew Kasten (deceased), Chelsea Kasten, Karly Kasten, Ashley Steck, Jason McKinley, Matt McKinley; and great-grandchildren, Anna and Jacob McKinley.
He was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Vernon Kasten; a sister, Dorothy Manes; and a grandson, Matthew Kasten.
Friends may call from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the chapel of McCombs Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Jackson and from 9:30 a.m. to service time Friday at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Jackson.
Funeral service will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday at the church, with the Rev. Robert Henrichs officiating.
Interment will follow in Russell Heights Cemetery in Jackson, with full military honors.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to the Kenneth G. Kasten Endowment Fund of Saxony High School, 2004 Saxony Drive, Jackson, MO 63755, or St. Paul Lutheran Church or School.
Online condolences may be sent to the family by visiting www.mccombsfuneralhome.com.