Kenneth Duane Mukomela was born Jan 15, 1936 in Langdon, North Dakota to Ukrainian immigrant Anthon Krystoforovich Mukomela and Ella Mae (Storie) Mukomela. He died peacefully on March 12, 2022 in Marshall, MN after a courageous and hard fought battle with cancer. He attended Langdon public schools, graduating high school in 1953. He received his bachelor’s degree from Mayville State University and went on to receive both master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of North Dakota. A proud American, he entered the US Army in 1954 and served his country with honor throughout his 40-year military career, retiring in 1996 with the rank of Colonel. He earned 14 military awards including the Legion of Merit Medal, the Department of the Army’s highest peace-time honor. Ken was a long-time member, an officer and served in the Honor Guard of American Legion Post 113.
After meeting at Mayville State University, Ken married Gwendolyn Jean Nixon on July 6, 1957 in Crary, ND. Together they had five children: Kristi, Richard, Mark, Kari and Karla. Ken began his career in education by teaching at various high schools throughout ND as well as directing music and band. In 1968, the family moved to Marshall, MN where Ken began his long career as a professor of Business and Office Education at Southwest Minnesota State University, in the University’s second year of existence. The success of his students and getting to know them personally was always important to Ken. He retired in 1997 and remained an avid Mustang booster, member of the University Foundation board and advocate for all things SMSU. Ken received many accolades and awards for his service to SMSU including being inducted into the Athletic Hall of Honor, the Honorary Alumni Lifetime Membership award, the NSIC Noel Olson Volunteer of the Year award, and most recently the John & Kathy Paxton Alumni award for outstanding service to SMSU. For years, Ken was the top seller of Gold Rush Raffle tickets!
Most important to Ken was his wife of nearly 65 years and his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He put great effort into making sure his family remained close and gathered often. Ken and Gwen were very generous with their time and treasures when it came to family get togethers. They made countless trips to the Twin Cities and to the state of Virginia, not missing many events. One of Ken’s favorite stops on their trips was at a Dairy Queen! He loved sports of all kinds, serving others, volunteering, traveling, pheasant hunting, construction projects, fishing and staying busy. Very busy.
Ken is survived by his wife, Gwen, of Marshall, children Kristi (Mark Everson) of Woodbury, MN, Richard (Elizabeth) of Chaska, MN, Mark (Nancy) of Lakeville, MN, Kari (Greg) Lee of Apple Valley, MN and Karla (Marty) Baird of Disputanta, VA, grandchildren Heather Conneran (Matt), Adam Mukomela (Tami), Katie Morrell (Mike), Jennifer Key (Dave), Jeffrey Baird (Kristin), Matthew Mukomela (Margo), Jackson Baird, 11 great-grandchildren, sister Shirley Lazarz of Sun City, AZ, brother Robert (Kay) of Algonquin, IL, sister Lois (Eldon) Nolte of Des Moines, IA, as well as many nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents, brothers Arthur and William, sisters Marge and Cheryl, and great-granddaughter Isabella.
Ken touched the lives of many throughout his lifetime. His gentle spirit, quick wit, and kindness will be missed by all who knew him. The family wishes to thank all the friends and community members who have shown an outpouring of love and support through this journey and the wonderful, caring staff at Prairie Home Hospice. In lieu of flowers please consider a memorial to the SMSU Foundation (Ken & Gwen Mukomela Scholarship), the American Legion Post 113, or Prairie Home Hospice.
Horvath Funeral Service