Kenneth Donald Bachmeyer, a former resident of Three Rivers and Sequoia National Park, died Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in Visalia, surrounded by his family. He was 89.
Ken was born November 22, 1928, in Philadelphia, Penn., to Addie Lavina Bingenheimer and William Leonard Bachmeyer. After graduating from Thorp High School in Wisconsin in 1947, he was recruited on a football scholarship to the University of Wisconsin, which he attended until drafted into the Air Force in the fall of 1948.
In the early 1950s, Ken ventured to the wild country of Wyoming, where the relatively new Grand Teton National Park was hiring summer workers. Ken worked summers at the park while wintering in Rock Springs with a railroad job until he was hired permanently by the National Park Service.
While in Wyoming, Ken met the former Barbara Roberts. In 1955, they were married at the Church of the Transfiguration in Moose, Wyo., a part of Grand Teton National Park.
So started a life of adventure as the couple moved around the western United States working in various national parks.
After working trails and roads in Grand Teton, Ken transferred to Joshua Tree National Monument where he worked on the road crew. After nearly six years there, he transferred again to Death Valley National Monument, where he was roads and trails supervisor.
The growing family stayed in Death Valley for three years before Ken was promoted, this time to chief of maintenance at Mount Rainier National Park (Wash.).
He often regaled people with the story of moving from the hottest place on earth to a place that received world-record snowfall. But such was his love for natural history and the outdoors.
After six years at Mount Rainier, Ken’s final transfer in 1973 was to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks where he served the remainder of his career, eventually retiring as the parks’ chief of maintenance.
Upon retirement, Ken and Barbara stayed in Three Rivers and enjoyed many years of travel, spending time with friends made during their Park Service years and checking in on grandchildren and nieces and nephews. When Barbara’s health declined, Ken provided nearly 10 years of caretaking with tenderness and compassion that spoke of his devotion to the girl who stole his heart so many years ago.
After Barbara’s death, then a fall that broke his leg and a difficult recovery, Ken moved from Badger to an assisted living facility in Visalia.
Ken was a lifelong fan of the Dodgers, cheering them from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, and every football season would find him enrapt and hopeful that his beloved Green Bay Packers would make the playoffs. He was also a fixture at family events: weddings, graduations funerals.
Ken was preceded in death by his wife of 57 years, Barbara (1931-2012).
He is survived by three children, Joni Bachmeyer Jordan, Christie Bachmeyer, and Ken Bachmeyer Jr.; brother William Bachmeyer; sisters Mary Jean Flak and Karen (Marvin) Flak; grandchildren Michael Jordan, Cynthia Shouse, Mark Jordan, David Jordan, Andrew Bachmeyer, Amy Bachmeyer, Colin Reilly, and Caitlin Reilly, seven great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
A private graveside celebration of Ken’s life took place Saturday, Jan. 27, at Eshom Valley Cemetery in Badger. He was laid to rest next to Barbara.