Remembering Ken Kander
The world lost its kindest citizen on Saturday, September 9, 2023. Ken Kander was born Murray Kenny Kander, but from the very beginning, his parents intended for him to go by his middle name-- and indeed, if you called him by his legal first name, you would get such a look.
Ken's capacity for love was endless. Everyone he met adored him. All of us who loved him believed that our relationship with him was deep and special and unlike any other... and every single one of us was right.
Ken was born May 7, 1949, in Toledo, Ohio. His parents were both immigrants: Jake B. Kander, his father, was born in Lithuania; his mother Caroline Lill Kander (later Rosenberg) was born in Czechoslovakia. When he was only 16, Ken lost his own beloved father, but kept his memory alive and was forever telling stories of "Zayde Jake."
Ken earned a Bachelor's degree in Math and Psychology from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and a Masters in Finance from Walsh College in Troy, Michigan. He put his brilliant mind to work in a variety of settings, with the only theme being "making the world a better place." He worked for the Ohio Parole Authority in Cleveland, Ohio; Lettuce Entertain You in Chicago; Allied Communications in Southfield; and for two decades as Director of Finance and Operations for Holly Academy in Holly, Michigan, where he especially loved reading stories to kindergarten students each week. In retirement, he began teaching English to international students, all of whom adored him and vice versa. He also taught at his synagogue's Hebrew school; one of his favorite topics was Jewish Humor. (He loved a good joke. And all things Jewish. He is the only person who genuinely enjoyed eating matzah and gefilte fish year-round.)
There are not enough superlatives to describe Ken Kander. He was the truest definition of a "mensch," the Yiddish word for "good person." He was wise, funny, unfailingly kind, supportive, loyal, and calming. He was married to his beloved Lisa for forty-two years. Ken loved the Beatles, the Detroit Tigers, a nice glass of dry red wine or chivas on the rocks, theater, poker, and most of all just being with family. His greatest joy was family: Lisa, their children and grandchildren, and a wide circle of given and chosen family. He was, and is, cherished by all.
Ken is survived by his wife, Lisa; his children and their partners, Beth Kander-Dauphin (Danny Dauphin), Jacob Kander (Jessica), Adam Kander (Jenna Pawlicki), and Claire Kander (Kevin Golden); grandchildren Jude, Lucy, Effie, and Matan; two of his six siblings, Rochelle and Marton; and many beloved cousins, nieces, nephews, family and friends. He is preceded in death by both of his parents, four of his six siblings (Herman, Irving, Seymour, and Esther), and many other beloved family and friends.
The world will not be the same without Ken Kander. His memory will always be our greatest blessing, and in his honor, please pursue justice and offer kindness every day. Donations in his memory can be made to the Jessica Shayne Magid chapter of the Leukemia Research Foundation, Temple Beth El of Flint, or the charity dearest to your heart.
Funeral services will be held Tuesday, September 12, at 11 AM Eastern at Temple Beth El (5150 Calkins Road, Flint), officiated by family friend Rabbi Debra Kassoff. The service will also be available to view over Zoom. Please contact the Temple for the Zoom link and password by emailing email@example.com. A brief graveside service will take place immediately following the funeral, at Beth El Memorial Park in Flint Memorial Park Cemetery (9506 N Dort Highway, Mt Morris). There will be a lunch in Temple Beth El's social hall following interment. Shiva services will take place at 7 PM Eastern on Tuesday, at Temple Beth El, led by Rabbi Kassoff. Wednesday and Thursday shiva will also be at 7 PM, led by Leonard Meizlish; Wednesday will be at the Kander family home and on Zoom, Thursday will be on Zoom only.