Ken was born August 29, 1930, to Joe and Rose (Vali) on their farm near Esterhazy, SK. His only brother, Lawrence, was born three years later. Very close as youngsters, Lawrence remembers eagerly awaiting his big brother's return from Wales Country School, which they attended until grade 10. Joe and Rose made considerable sacrifices for their boys to attend high school in Stockholm, SK. Unfortunately, Ken discovered the pool hall of the big city (population 202); his mother had to intervene and his last two years were completed by correspondence at the dining room table in the "Drozda Schoolhouse."
After receiving his hard-earned high school diploma, Ken continued to farm with his family for a few more years. They grew mostly wheat, raised cattle, and milked cows, selling the cream to the creamery in Esterhazy.
However, it was managing the Beaver Lumber that brought Ken to Shoal Lake. He married Marion Fedorski September 5, 1956, and they arrived in Shoal Lake as newlyweds. Their daughters Valerie and Colette were born Nov. 4, 1958 and Jan. 2, 1960, respectively.
In June of '57, Ken formed a General Insurance partnership with Frank M. Findlay, buying the business outright in 1958, eventually changing the name to K. J. Drozda Ltd.
In 1969, with their daughters and the business growing, the family moved from behind the office to 718 Birtle Street, with Lawrence and Cathie Smith as their next-door neighbours. Fifty years later, though circumstances have changed, Lawrence has become an even more dear and treasured neighbour to the girls.
Ken served the community and surrounding area in the General, Life, and Investment branches of the business until his retirement in 2001, due to health reasons. Those 44 years saw a number of wonderful women as secretaries and Bob Kimpinski, a valued, long-time employee who bought the General portion of the business in 1992.
Over the course of his career, Ken's passion and commitment to those he served and his unwavering belief in the product he sold garnered him many industry awards and accolades, including membership in the prestigious Million Dollar Round Table, not once, but numerous times. His big-city counterparts found this achievement almost unbelievable, as Ken came from a Prairie town of 800 people!
The response to the speech he made chronicling this achievement and his philosophy, titled "101 Candles," raised the roof off the auditorium and left the astonished, paid keynote speaker with a monumental act to follow; he was incredulous that Ken had no formal training in public speaking.
Ken treated his family to yearly vacations in Clear Lake, MB, as well as two trips to Banff and a most-memorable trip to the Bahamas, which stands out among Ken's many convention trips, because Ken and Marion included the girls. Ken and Marion also enjoyed many golf holidays to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in their later years. Valerie and Colette have especially fond memories of weekend day-trips to a special spot on the Assiniboine River to fish and picnic. The presence of Tabby, the family dachshund, made these trips complete.
Among the most-treasured times with their dad, Valerie and Colette cite one-on-one fishing trips to Red Lake, ON and the Waterhen, MB.
Ken also loved to treat his family to fine meals in fancy restaurants.
In addition to golfing and fishing, Ken's other hobbies and activities included: curling; membership in the Chamber of Commerce and Lions Club; many years serving on the Shoal Lake Golf Club board; gardening (especially corn and tomatoes); playing the accordion; dancing; bridge; and polka festivals. Ever faithful to his Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Blue Jays, he was an armchair enthusiast of many competitive sports, especially hockey and baseball. He was also known for his penchant for red Oldsmobiles. His prowess locally as "The Great Gopher Hunter" was legendary, and though a hobby at first, became a service highly appreciated by farmers in the area.
His son-in-law, Vaughn, sharing his love of hunting, enabled Ken to continue hunting deer into his eighties.
Ken suffered a series of strokes in the spring of 2012 and has spent the last 8.5 years at Morley House Personal Care Home, visited almost daily by Marion, for as long as she was able. They proved they could still "cut a pretty mean rug" on the dance floor at birthday parties and social events at the Home. Ken has received such wonderful care from the staff at the facility that they feel more like a second family.
Ken passed away peacefully on October 30, 2020 at 3:15 p.m. in the presence of his family.
Ken leaves to mourn: his wife Marion; daughters Valerie (Vaughn Blab) and Colette; five grandchildren, Jacinthe (Mike), Stefan (Andrea), Danielle (Marc-Andre), Caleb (Alliesha), Kelsey-Ann (Marcelo Ramirez); great-grandchildren, Greyson, Finnley, and Mason; brother, Lawrence (Evelyn); nephews and nieces, Mark, Michelle (Ted Hastings), Jocelyn, and Bradley (Beth); as well as great-nephews and nieces.
Ken was predeceased by his mother, father and mother-in-law, Rose Fedorski.
Ken will be greatly missed, but he will continue to live on in the hearts and memories of those who loved him, especially his family and friends.
To send flowers to Kenneth (Ken) Joseph Drozda's family, please visit our floral store.
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