Life Story / Obituary
Kenneth R. Mandy, 81, passed away unexpectedly Saturday, January 2, 2021.
Ken was born December 4, 1939 in Milwaukee, WI to Ralph and Ruth (Halvorsen) Mandy. He was raised in Ladysmith, WI graduating from High School in 1959. Ken joined the US Air Force immediately after graduating and served as a mechanic before being honorably discharged in 1962.
While he was successful after leaving the service, Ken’s passion was the outdoors, not the sales career he’d used to buy a nice suburban house and start a family. Despite the challenges, and at a time when Lake Michigan was considered polluted and nearly dead, he left his day job and became a full-time charter fishing captain in the early 1970’s. Captain Ken started with the first “Kari Joy” (named after his daughter), and pioneered techniques and methods of fishing that provided plentiful hauls for customers regardless of the season. He ran charters full-time for 40 years, from April to October, which afforded him the time to hunt and fish over the winter. It was this time as Captain of a series of ever-nicer Kari Joy’s that most of his friends came to know Ken, and he was a fixture in Racine, especially up and down the Root River. He was actively involved in the creation and promotion of the Fishing Charters of Racine group, he was both a frequent patron and on the Board of Directors of the Harbor Light Yacht Club, and he served on the City of Racine Harbor Commission. It was only after his illness later in life that his family fully recognized the impact and relationships he had throughout the area as many people reached out to tell their favorite stories of Ken, or how he’d impacted them, or in some cases how he’d saved their lives on the lake.
He is survived by his loving wife, JoAnn, Racine, WI, his daughters from his first marriage Kari, Lake Tomahawk, WI and Kenda Kremzar-Escobar, Racine, WI as well as two sons Richard Leonard, Racine, WI and Michael Leonard, Burlington, VT. He is also survived by his brother Russell, Redmond, OR, and sisters Joyce Kubicz, Ladysmith, WI, Janet Weasler, West Bend, WI, Karen Mestelle, Barnes, WI and Marylin, Tacoma, WA as well as many loving nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. He was proceeded in death by his Father Ralph and Mother Ruth. Ken’s family will be scattering his ashes on Lake Michigan, and friends and members of the community will be invited to a Celebration of Ken’s life when circumstances allow. The family would like to say a special “Thank You” to the staff and volunteers at the Wisconsin Veteran’s Home at Union Grove for the wonderful care they provided Ken at the end of his life.