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Kenneth O. Umenthum
(November 8, 1914 - August 26, 2011)

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Kenneth O. Umenthum

U.S. Veteran

Kenneth Owen Umenthum, 96, Belle Fourche S.D., passed away quietly on Friday, August 26, 2011, at Belle Fourche Senior Care, with his family at his side.

A Friends and Family Service was held Monday, August 29 at 7:00 PM at Kline Funeral Chapel, in Belle Fourche.

A Celebration of Life was held 11:00 AM, Tuesday, August 30th, at the Congregational United Church of Christ, in Belle Fourche with the Rev. Del Neumeister officiating.

Inurnment services were held at the Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday, August 31.

A Memorial has been established.

Kenneth Owen Umenthum was born November 8, 1914, at the Methodist Hospital in Mitchell, SD to Edward F. and Mamie M. (Radmer) Umenthum. He was the oldest of four children. Kenny attended grade school in Mitchell. In 1926, the family moved to the Belle Fourche area and homesteaded near Two Top Butte about 35 miles northwest of Belle Fourche. Kenny graduated from Belle Fourche High School in 1932.

One of Kenny’s first jobs was hand-setting pins in the Belle Fourche Bowling Alley. As a teenager, he joined his father and brother Ole doing carpentry and farm labor for the Helmer brothers. It was there he met his future wife, Dorothy. Kenny loved to tell of bouncing her on his knee when she was 4 and he was 15!

After graduation, Kenny and Ole decided to go to the 1932 Chicago World’s Fair. With less than $3.00 between them, and that hidden for safety, the boys hitchhiked and rode freight trains with the hobos. They were known to have hopped more than one train for work and adventure.

In the mid-thirties, the family moved to Pierre. Kenny worked in his parents’ bowling alley and as a carpenter. Later, Kenny and Ole moved back to Belle Fourche. Together they purchased bottom land along the Redwater River below present-day 13th Avenue. They also purchased and ran a gas station next door to present-day Posy Palace.

Shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Kenny received a letter from Uncle Sam that began with, “Greetings!” Preferring to choose his own course of service, Kenny enlisted in the Navy. He served from 1942 to 1945 as an Electrician’s Mate, First Class. He shipped out of San Diego aboard the USS Dawson, a troop transport ship, and served in the South Pacific. Kenny was a qualified Gyro compass technician and received a Good Conduct Medal. Upon discharge from the Navy, he returned to Belle Fourche in 1945 and worked for Everett Brammer as a carpenter.

Kenny married Dorothy L. Helmer on August10, 1946, in Miles City, Montana. They celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary two weeks ago. While Kenny was known for his building skills, he and Dorothy were most proud of the family they built through their sons, Keith and Daryl.

Well-known for his carpentry skills, Kenny leaves a legacy of more than 100 homes in and around the Tri-State Area. He was active in the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Northern Hills Barbershop Chorus. His baritone voice was the backbone of the First Congregational United Church of Christ choir for nearly six decades. Kenny also was a frequent high scorer in Senior Bowling League. Kenny took immense joy in his family, in his work, in singing, and in puns.

Kenny is survived by his wife, Dorothy; son Keith and Carol Umenthum; daughter-in-law Becky Umenthum; grandchildren Neile (Umenthum) and Kelly Hoops, Laura (Umenthum) Clarkson, Reese Clarkson, Katie Umenthum, Kenneth R. Umenthum; great-grandchildren, Shelby Clarkson, Odessa Clarkson, Gwendolyn Hoops, Owen Hoops, and Liam Hoops; nephews John and Kenneth Coyle. Also grateful for having shared his life are numerous brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law; Wilma Helmer, Ruth Helmer, Glenn and Betty Helmer, Dora and J.O. Hansen, Mary Lou and Mike Hanify, Larry and Ardyth Helmer, Gary and Jean Helmer; 23 nieces/nephews; 43 grand-nieces/nephews; and 26 great-grand nieces/nephews.

Kenny was preceded in death by his son Daryl; his parents Ed and Mamie; his brothers George and Oscar “Ole”; and his sister, Yula Coyle.

An online guest book is available at www.klinefuneralchapel.com.


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