Kenneth Armbrust was a structured and driven man, but all who knew him were also well aware that he had a heart of gold. He was a devoted husband and father who became quite the softie when it came to the granddaughter he adored. Ken answered the call to serve his country and wholeheartedly applied himself to everything he did, yet he also had no trouble kicking back and enjoying life a little, too. Always dressed in his snappy red suspenders, he had a great sense of humor through which he brought so much light and life to the world around him. With the love of his life by his side, Ken created a life he treasured filled with precious memories that have become priceless gifts for those he leaves behind.
The decade of the 1930s was one of the most trying times our nation has ever seen. By 1932 countless Americans were without job bringing the unemployment rate soaring above 20 percent. Without jobs people often lost their homes, too, and with a severe drought that gripped the nation’s heartland the demand on the already strained food supply only added fuel to the fire. There was reason to hope, however, such as in the family of Anton “Tony” and Theresa (Waldhauser) Armbrust since they were pleased to announce the birth of a healthy baby boy on August 1, 1932. Kenneth was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as the younger of two children in his family including his sister, Kathryn, who was ten years his senior. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knew Kenny that he was a bit mischievous as a young boy. He even confessed that he gave his parents a run for their money and got away with way more than he should have. Ken attended local schools and graduated from Milwaukee Boys Trade & Tech High School.
With a desire to serve his country, Ken enlisted in the Marine Corps in Milwaukee in 1952. He received his training at MCRD in San Diego, California where he confessed to pulling a prank or two. Kenny served as a radio radio telegraph operator and supply technician in Korea, rising to the rank of corporal by the time he was honorably discharged in Quantico, Virginia, in 1955. While in the Marines, he was awarded the Korean Service medal, the UN Service medal, and the National Defense Service medal. He was very proud of his time in the service and everything the Marine Corps stands for. The days Ken spent in the military were days that helped shape him into the extraordinary man who was so well-loved, and they were times that he always spoke fondly of.
Life was forever changed for Ken when he met the woman with whom he would share a lifetime of love. Her name was Mary Przanowski and she meant the world to him. After falling deeply in love, the couple was united in marriage on September 3, 1955, at Our Lady of Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Milwaukee. They shared a rich and fulfilling marriage and Ken’s focus was always on making sure that his sweetheart had everything she needed. His unwavering concern for his wife was endless and provides us all with much to aspire for. Together they were blessed with two children, Mandy and Randy “Rusty.” Fun-filled family times were had when they made a long trek out to California with a camper in tow. Their children were quite young at the time, but this trip was laden with memories that were family favorites for years to come.
In order to support his family, Ken was a linoleum and tile contractor. He owned his own business, Kenny’s Linoleum and Tile Company, and he loved his work. Ken was meticulous in his work, too, always paying attention to the most minute details. He also worked as the maintenance and grounds manager at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Milwaukee. Since Kenny and Mary shared a passion for antiques they also opened an antique store, Y’s Antiques. When asked the reason behind the name of the store, Ken was always quick to explain that it came from the fact that everyone in their family had names that ended in the letter “y” – Kenny, Mary, Mandy, and Randy.
Although work was certainly a necessary part of Ken’s life, he also took time to pursue some of the things he loved. During his younger years he enjoyed going hunting with Tommy, Carl, and Tom. According to Tommy, the highlight of the trip was hanging out with each other as they simply loved being together. Mary made sure the men were well supplied with her Hungarian goulash as well. Family was always front and center in Kenny’s life and when his family grew to include his granddaughter, BreAnn, he was over the moon. It was always a toss-up between which sweetheart was his favorite, his wife or his granddaughter. He affectionately called her “Susie,” and both she and Kenny’s niece, Julie, loved to snap his red suspenders, which always made him smile. As BreAnn grew older and began dating a young man named Scott who was a Marine, Ken was thrilled and was so proud of his service. Kenny became interested in the Marine Corps again and highly valued his memorabilia from the Marine Corp.
Through the life of Kenneth Armbrust, we learn what it means to truly live – and to truly love, too. He had high expectations of both himself and those around him and believed in doing something right the first time. Kenny was a man of integrity who kept his word and although he could be tough, he was always fair. He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather who made no secret of the fact that he was married to the love of his life. A true blessing in the lives of many, Kenny will be deeply missed and warmly remembered.
Kenneth Armbrust died on May 27, 2011. Ken’s family includes his wife, Mary; daughter, Mandy and her husband Erv; son, Rusty; granddaughter, BreAnn and her husband Scott; great-grandsons, Daniel & Matthew; sister, Kathryn; as well as several cousins, nieces & nephews. Visit with Ken’s family and friends on Tuesday, May 31 at Franciscan Garden Chapel, 1000 Williams Ave, South Milwaukee from 9:00 a.m. until the time of Funeral Service at 11:00 a.m. Entombment St. Adalbert Cemetery. Memorials to Stars ans Stripes Honor Flight PO Box 636, Port Washington, WI 53074 or Playing Again Sams of Wisconsin, PO Box 128, Milwaukee WI 53201 suggested. Arrangements provided by Suminski LifeStory Funeral Homes, Niemann / Suminski (414) 744-5156. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com where you can leave a favorite memory or sign the online guestbook.
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