Kenneth Oliver Arneson was born August 4, 1922, to parents Oscar and Clara Hagen Arneson. The oldest of three children, Kenneth was later joined by a sister, Mildred, and brother, Clarence. Kenneth was baptized in Christ, October 13, 1922, and was a lifelong member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Hysham.
Kenneth began school in a one-room schoolhouse on Edwards Creek, a few miles from his home at Pease Bottom. He later attended the Rancher School, at Myers and graduated from Hysham High School in 1943.
Growing up during the “dirty 30’s” made a huge impact on Kenneth’s life. Nothing was ever thrown away if it had any kind of life left in it. Everything was saved “because he might need it someday!” He spoke of the grasshoppers being so thick they would block the sun. The hoppers ate everything, including the paint on the houses and clothes hanging out on the line.
In 1944, Kenneth joined the Navy and was stationed in California. During those years, he made some dear friends that he kept in touch with throughout his life. His Navy buddies, John Bryant, and Ben Channon visited him in Montana several times. Kenneth was the last surviving World War II Vet from Treasure County.
Kenneth was never afraid of hard work and learned it at an early age. He chopped wood, milked cows, and helped his dad farm while attending school. His work ethic continued throughout his life, and he was always known as a hard worker. While enlisted, the “Navy” was his day job, but he also worked various jobs (including being a “pin setter” in a bowling alley) in the evenings to earn some extra money. Kenneth stashed his earnings away and was always proud that he was able to pay his own way home from the Navy rather than have to wire home for money as many others did. He returned home with $1500 in his pocket! After returning to Myers, Kenneth purchased a school bus. He delivered students to school in the mornings, worked in a garage in Hysham during school hours, and then would return the students home in the evenings. He had this bus route for four years and only one time had to deliver the kids to school late – due to deep snowdrifts! He broke three sets of chains in the first year of driving because the weather was so bad.
Kenneth loved to dance, and it was at a dance in Ingomar where he met the love of his life, Nona Ruth Clifton. The couple married June 25, 1949, in Billings, Montana. Their first home was a one-room bunkhouse. Later they purchased the farm where they would live for thirty-nine years and raise six children. Along with farming, Kenneth spent eighteen years working construction jobs throughout Montana. A few of his jobs included the “new” Myers bridge, Hysham School, and building the Sarpy and Colstrip railways. We can only wonder how many miles he walked daily while working construction!
In 1990, Kenneth and Nona retired from farm life and purchased a home in Hysham. Kenneth found retirement left him with too much time on his hands. He was soon roaming the town looking for somebody he could help out. He began working for Valley Farmer’s Supply, driving a truck, running for parts, or doing anything else that needed to be done.
Kenneth never knew a stranger and would strike up a conversation with anybody. He was also known to pick up and bring home a few hitchhikers over the years, much to Nona’s dismay! Ken was extremely proud of his ‘38 Chrysler, loved to throw horseshoes, dance, listen to “good country music,” and play cards. He could often be seen walking or riding his bike around Hysham.
Kenneth was a long-time member of the American Legion, Treasure County Senior Citizens, and Trinity Lutheran Church. He was preceded in death by his dear wife, Nona; parents, Oscar and Clara; sister, Mildred; brother and sister-in-law, Clarence and Connie Arneson; great-grandson, Kiever Rogers; and many friends.
Kenneth is survived by six children: Carol (Gene) Gamble, Gary (Sandy) Arneson, Gordon (Elaine) Arneson, Naomi (Kenny) Rolandson, Lisa (Darin) Linger, and Alana (Kory) Kober; fourteen grandchildren; twenty great-grandchildren; and one great-great-granddaughter.
If desired, memorials may be given to the Rancher Cemetery, Trinity Lutheran Church, or the American Legion, Hysham Chapter.
The family would like to recognize two outstanding CNA’s who our dad loved dearly, Jennifer and Deb. We rejoice in the knowledge that our parents are together again, whole, and at peace.