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Kenneth Edward Karlson

Born: Thu., Apr. 21, 1949
Died: Tue., Oct. 3, 2017

Military Honors

3:00 PM Fri., Oct. 06, 2017
Location: Western Montana State Veterans Cemetery

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Florence - Kenneth Edward Karlson, 68, passed away Tuesday, October 3, 2017 at his home in Florence after a long battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife and partner of 33 years, Anna-Marie as well as five step-children. He is also survived by his mother, Evelyln Stelling. Ken served our country in the Vietnam War, and was passionately dedicated to his God, country and family. A retired Major, after 30 years of service, in the U.S. Marine Corps, he lived by its motto, "Always Faithful". There will be a visitation at Whitesitt Funeral Home in Stevensville on Thursday, October 5, 2017 from 3:00 P.M. until 4:00 P.M. Funeral services will be held at 3:00 P.M. on Friday, October 6, 2017 at the Western Montana State Veterans Cemetery in Missoula.

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Roy and Mara Rosal
   Posted Thu October 05, 2017
To Ree and family,

Mara and I wish to extend our deepest sympathy to you as you deal with Ken's passing. We love the tribute that you have planned for him, and we are sure he will be smiling down on you all during the ceremony. We will keep you in our prayers during this difficult time.


Roy and Mara Rosal

I hope you don't mind if I share a little Ken Karlson story too.

While serving together in Dallas, I was stopped in my tracks one day as Staff Sergeant Karlson passed by with slick sleeves (no rank) but fresh Warrant Officer insignia on his collar. As a young Lance Corporal, I had never witnessed the transition of a Marine from the SNCO ranks to Warrant Officer first hand. I recall asking my Gunny "how did he (Ken) do that?" Clearly I had so much to learn!

Fast forward 10 years. My next encounter with Ken was in H&MS-11 during the TACAIR transition. During that tour of duty, Ken played a critical role in planning and executing the huge logistical challenge that we faced. I now had an opportunity to observe Ken in action as a leader, and this experience answered the earlier question of "how" he earned the privilege of joining the officer corps. Clearly, Kenny became a Marine Officer by expecting nothing but the best from himself and his Marines, by always leading from the front, by maintaining technical proficiency, and by inspiring others to succeed as a leader. Throughout the entire TACAIR transition project, which stretched all of us to new limits, Ken remained confident yet humble, he stayed true to the unit's goals and commitments, and he always retained his sense of humor. And . . . we all know that Ken's sense of humor was second to none.

Major Karlson touched the lives of so many Marines during his 30 year career including mine. I became a better Marine, and a better person, by having the privilege of serving with him. He will be missed.

Don Murphy
   Posted Thu October 05, 2017
I am sorry to hear of Ken's passing. I am really glad that he was able to come to the 50th Class reunion this summer so I could see him again, it meant a lot to me, and to everyone that was there.
Don Murphy

Edward & Deborah Quintero
   Posted Thu October 05, 2017
Our sincere condolences with Cowboy's passing. We had many enjoyable and memorable gatherings at the house, O'Club and squadron areas while stationed at MCAS El Toro during the 80's and up at NAVAIR WDC during the 90s. When I think of Cowboy today, I see him as the picture perfect Marine Officer devoted to Marine Corps Aviation. He accomplished some notable milestones during those years that are recorded at HQMC with regard to F/A-18 aircraft Fleet introduction, TACAIR transition, advanced Mobile Facility development and transformation of the TAVB mobility transport concept. An exceptional Marine Leader who made a mark for all of us to measure up to in each of our former careers, but more importantly the US Marines of the future. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to have served with him and gaining both your friendships. Your in our prayers.
Deb & Ed

Edward Quintero
   Posted Thu October 05, 2017

TRADITION AND SPLENDOR was sent by Ed and Deb Quintero.

Major Kenneth Karlson USMC Ret: A Marine Leader and a friend of our family who made a difference in this world. The Quintero's

Chip McCoy
   Posted Thu October 05, 2017
I was a classmate of Ken's at Corvallis. Though I hadn't seen him for at least 50 years I considered him a friend, and I remember him with fondness. R.I.P. Ken you will be missed.

Marcia Ann Kuehl Maj USMC (Ret)
   Posted Thu October 05, 2017
Ken was not only my mentor but also my friend. As Marine Officers, we shared some of the best and worst of times, but he was always positive and an inspiration to those of us who served with him. I am sad to hear of his passing - as Marines like to think we will survive anything. My deepest sympathies to his family, his friends, and his fellow Marines. He will be missed by all.

Joe Bynum and Liz Bergman
   Posted Fri October 06, 2017
Liz and I send you lots of hugs with much, much love. We are truly sad that we are unable to be with you and your family to help provide comfort, but also celebrate Ken's wonderful life. Ken really made a difference to many.

Ken was a true country gentleman and a perfect Marine who we had the privilege of meeting and serving with back in 1986 at MCAS El Toro. It was the beginning of a wonderful friendship. Many, many fond memories have been made in the days since that meeting.

Ken had the call sign of 'Cowboy' and he came by his call sign legitimately. When he was out of uniform he always wore cowboy boots, cowboy shirt, and cowboy cut wrangler jeans with a big silver eagle belt buckle! One could not miss him in a crowd as he always carried himself like the cowboy he was raised in his home state of Montana. He was also known as a superior arm wrestler who even as an old LDO (Limited Duty Officer) could pin the much younger Lt's arms in the O Club bar winning bets for his fellow Mustang officers (former enlisted Marines). Fond memories were made of that Era where you worked hard, but also relaxed by playing hard as well. Cowboy knew how to do both very well! In tense times, he was the jell that held things together. Cowboy may have left this life on earth but he shall not be forgotten. As that stanza in the Marine Corps Hymn states, he has now assumed his post with the long line of his fellow Marines guarding the gates to heaven.

Semper Fi Cowboy!

Joe Bynum
Liz Bergman
United States Marines, Retired

Craig Siphers
   Posted Sun October 08, 2017

I was shocked to learn of Ken's passing. I am sooo sorry. I always enjoyed visiting with Ken. My deepest sympathy to you.


Tom and Barb Turner
   Posted Tue October 10, 2017
Ree and Family,
I just returned from travel and got caught up on e-mail. Barb and I are very sad to hear this news about Ken and we hope you are doing well under the circumstances.
As with others who were part of Cowboy's Marine Corps Team at MALS-11 in El Toro, I had the utmost respect for Ken due to his "Esprit De Corps" leadership and guidance, along with his friendship. I was then lucky enough to work with him again at Cherry Point until he retired. I hope he made good use of the Cowboy hat we got him for his retirement!
Ken was proud to serve, and now we'll know he'll "ever be on Heavens scene while guarding those streets as a United States Marine..."
Tom and Barb

   Posted Tue October 10, 2017
I was sorry to hear of Kens passing, we visited at his office in Florence many times. He was the best hay hiker round bale picker upper we have ever had. He would go into a field with hundreds of round bales and never waste a move in picking them up. He will be missed as we still talk about his ability in running a John Deere tractor and his pre flight checks every morning to be sure every thing was ready to go.

Tom Ruffatto

John & Lisa Giacometto
   Posted Thu October 12, 2017
We are so sorry for your loss! Ken was a great man.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
John & Lisa

Terry Hall
   Posted Tue October 24, 2017
Mrs. Karlson--- I am so sorry for your loss of Kenneth. I was glad you guys could stop at the class reunion and visit with Ken and meet you. From our days in school I can appreciate Ken's kindness ,smartness and organization. Also I am very appreciative of his service to our country and the sacrifice that requires. May you find comfort and healing at this difficult time. Terry and Elaine Hall

Michael J Carew, M/Sgt USMC ret.
   Posted Sat November 04, 2017
Major Karlson was me CO for 6 yrs. We worked togeather like brothers. Had a lot of refreshments all over the USA. Cowboy was one of the best persons I have ever had the pleasure to know in my 67 yrs. Semper Fi. I will see you guarding the gates when I get there! God bless.

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