KENNETH J. WASHINGTON - son, brother, husband, father, martial arts and music aficionado, conscientious neighbor, a friend to many, and the consummate “nice guy.”
Ken, was born on August 3, 1957 in Chicago, Illinois to the union of Melvin Washington Sr. and Gwendolyn Plick Washington (deceased). To that union, two other children were born, Melvin Washington Jr., and Sylvia Washington. Educated in Chicago’s Catholic school system, Ken attended St. Felicitas Elementary School and Mt. Carmel High School. While he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Illinois State University, he continued to feed his passion for life-long learning by completing various enrichment programs,
professional certification courses and numerous graduate level seminars.
A charismatic and personable man who never met a stranger, Ken met his future best friend and soulmate at a casual gathering of friends. What started as an offer of “a ride home” began a journey of love, matrimony, parenting and eternal partnership for Ken and Megon Bernadette Hill-Washington for 30 + years. During their journey, Ken and Megon expanded their family with the births of their daughter, August Simone Washington, and their son, Kenneth James Washington II, affectionately nicknamed “Nikko” by his sister at birth.
Besides his love of family and pride in his children, Ken was passionate about music! He loved all genres, but especially jazz, as evidenced by his experience as a DJ while attending ISU and his licensing as a radio operator by the FCC. He passed on his love and knowledge of music to August and Nikko, teaching them to appreciate the legends of R&B, while growing his appreciation of “their” music of choice, hip-hop. On many occasion, he would entice them with the line, “I’ll give you five dollars to guess who this is we’re listening to!”
In addition to their mutual appreciation of music, Ken and his children shared a passion for martial arts. Following in his son’s footsteps, in 1998 Ken began studying the Korean martial art of Tang Soo Do, ultimately rising to the level of Sa Bom Nim (Master Instructor) of the art form. Throughout the years, he, August and Nikko shared a Saturday routine of classes followed by meeting for lunch at Carl’s Hot Dog Stand. Annually, the classes would culminate with tournaments in Pittsburgh, where the family would travel with Megon as the
official cheerleader and pep squad; while Ken, August and Nikko competed. Once again, embracing his love of learning, Ken was passionate about training and cultivating an appreciation of the martial arts.
Professionally, Ken worked for more than 20 years in the academic publishing industry at several publishing houses, rising to the rank of Vice President, and receiving recognition for setting million dollar sales records on numerous occasions. Ken leveraged his sales experience and his out-going nature, and started building a career in the insurance industry where he worked until his passing. Ken was active in the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Illinois State University Alumni Association, and past president of the Northern Illinois Education Representative Association (NIERA) and a former member of the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE).
Whether it was biking or barbequing, making favorite playlists for his family and friends, lending a helping hand to a neighbor or stranger, or working for the betterment of his community, Ken Washington loved life and believed in sharing its goodness with everyone he met! And those of us he has left behind, are better people because of his having touched our lives and our hearts.
Ken departed this life on Tuesday, February 9, 2016 but he leaves to cherish and honor his memory his loving wife, Megon; his children, August Simone, and Kenneth James “Nikko”; his father, Melvin Washington Sr.; brother and sister, Melvin Jr, and Sylvia Washington, Mother in law Ann Hill, three sisters-in-law, Leah (Tim) Marable, Patricia Hill and Ona Hill-Lewis and a host of family and friends.