Kenneth Wart

Obituary of Kenneth Van Wart

Van Wart, Kenneth, a long time resident of Burlington, passed away on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 after fighting a long battle with Cancer, at the age of 78, with his family at his side. Ken grew up with his brother spending most of his childhood and early adult life living in Newton Highlands. He attended Newton High School, and in 1953 graduated from Boston University – School of Public Communications majoring in Journalism, after serving 2 years in the Military in Korea. He started his Journalism/Broadcasting career in the Boston area, having his own radio DJ show at several local Radio stations. He was known to the public as “Ken Wayne”, which was his celebrity/stage name, and was best known for his show on WRKO radio, before moving into television broadcasting during the seventies, where he became the weekend Anchor for Channel 7 News. After retiring from public broadcasting and remained active in such areas as training/counseling for public speaking, and in fund raising activities on behalf of Boston University. He married his wife Phyllis in May of 1952, and raised two sons, Wayne and Mark, in Burlington. Both sons also attended Boston University, and graduated from the School of Management. Ken is the beloved husband of 55 years of Phyllis (Stiglich) Van Wart. Loving father of Wayne & his wife Jan of Ridgefield Connecticut and the late Mark Van Wart. Father –in-law of Donna “DJ” Pontarelli of Richboro, Pennsylvania. Devoted grandfather of Christopher, Matthew, Kelly, Kevin and Jaclyn Van Wart. Brother of the late Richard Van Wart. A private family service is planned. At the family’s request, in lieu of flowers donations can be made to the American Cancer Society, 30 Speen St, Framingham, MA 01701. For Obituary & Guest Book see Wayne’s Eulogy for his Dad. Dad Today we are gathered to remember and pay tribute to my Dad. Over the course of the last few days I began to think about trying to find the right words to describe not only how I felt, but also about what I might say today about Dad. It is a mixed emotion at best, because on the one hand, I am glad that Dad has finally reached a painless peace – something that he has not had in a long time, – no one should have to suffer like he did. On the other hand, it is an overwhelming loss, not to have Dad around. I think about words like “amazing” and “strength”. This whole cancer nightmare started some 8 years ago. I remember getting the call – it was like someone pushed a knife through my heart. This could not possibly be happening to my Dad. I asked him what he was going to do... and he said, “what ever they tell me to do – Chemo – medicine, whatever, what ever it takes to beat this thing”. “I probably won’t like it, but I’ll do what ever they say”. And that he did. He did not like Lahey Clinic much, but he knew he had to go, and he knew he had to listen to what the Doctors say, and then do it. He was strong. There was never any griping, or complaining, he put his mind and soul into his battle. Some weeks after his first chemo experience, I asked him “how it was going” and he said “that Chemo stuff is terrible – I feel like crap”, but that’s all he said, and that was that. No complaining. What is amazing though, is that one of the next times we talked he said “well, I taught your mother how to pump gas today” – I said “what???, we had been talking about how he felt and what the chemo was like and he had changed the conversation on me – and he said again “I taught your mother how to pump gas, you know, she’s going to have to know how to do that some day”. It was amazing, the focus was not about him, it was about Mimi. He needed to be sure that Mimi would be OK. Whether it was a home repair, an appliance that was getting old, or even the car – he always said: If you need to fix something fix it right, get a good one – I don’t want Mimi to have to worry about what ever it was, breaking again. His worry was about Mimi. I also think about words like “mentor or teacher” and “humor”. I don’t think I have ever learned so much from one individual, or laughed so hard – whether it was about academic’s or current events, or about making the right decisions regarding household projects, or even about how to build shelves in the garage. He always knew how to do stuff. I still ask myself when faced with a dilemma – what would Dad do? It was the same in Dad’s professional life. Reading some of the comments and notes that his friends have posted onto his guestbook, the same words resonate – for example: “he helped me and was my mentor at WNAC”, “he had a sharp wit and sense of humor, he was an excellent performer and knew how to have fun, he was great to work with on camera and very funny, I remember him well - his sense of humor and kindness.” Just yesterday I spoke with Roger Allen on the phone, a man who introduced himself to me as, “...the man who had the pleasure of hiring your Dad into the Yankee Network Broadcasting many years ago. He said, “your Dad was professional, smart, was a great journalist, and he was the funniest guy – we had fun when we worked” I later talked with Dave Rodman, another of Dad’s broadcast friends, and he said exactly the same So words like “humor” and “funny” characterize him at home as well. I could talk for days about various examples about how he got us rolling in laughter – but just a few of them to share today -- some of these will be familiar: • jokes at the dining room table – breakfast lunch or dinner • how about another sliver, my Dear • or the occasional toast “To the Queen!” • being out at the pool, and the “Dearie Dives” and the “CannonBalls” • his pout-face that he used with the kids • singing Christmas Carols at the table with Willy – “Follow the bouncing Ball!” • teaching Chris and Matt how to “shoot bugs” – or “Fachoom!” • building the shed with Kevin and Jaclyn, and naming the Construction Company! And the list goes on. What else can one say: Smart, professional, loving and funny. All of these things wrapped up in one individual. – he was Dad, he was Ken, he was a husband, he was a co-worker, he was a grandfather, he was a CO – all that and more, but most of all he is “Dearie” He will always be Dearie. Remember him always. Remember the funny times, the good times. Today he is with Mark, but he will always be with us. April 13, 2007
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