Retired Airman Kenneth Walsh, US Navy
Kenneth Walsh served two years in the US Navy before a training accident severed his spinal cord, causing quadriplegia. After his service, as a technology and shop teacher, Ken worked actively as a peer mentor with the Minnesota Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America. He also competed in the Olympic Wheelchair Games.
He trained alongside his buddy Patrick Kahler by Bill King of Northland Scuba Eden Prairie, MN.
This year’s Minnesota Dive Pirate candidate, Ken had to pull out of the 2017 Cayman Brac trip at the last minute. Due to a sudden cancer diagnosis the week before departure, Ken Walsh, a true pirate at heart, sadly passed away on Sunday 2nd July 2017.
Last year’s recipient Todd Kemery introduced us to Ken. He wrote the following:
“It is with sadness and love in my heart for Kenneth Walsh that I wish to convey the loss we feel for our Brother. Our hearts go out to LuAnne and the Walsh Family. May God’s hand touch you and yours that His mercy and grace help shoulder your pain.
Ken was one of the original founders of our Minnesota Chapter. The summer of 1992 a group of local disabled veterans met regularly to hammer out all the details that was to eventually be our charter and policy manual. They also did the paperwork needed to start a PVA Chapter. February of 1993, Minnesota became officially sanctioned as the Minnesota Paralyzed Veterans of America, by PVA National.
Time went on and Ken graduated with a teaching degree and married LuAnne. I mention this condensed version of Ken’s history to point out his character and generosity. As a quadriplegic, he did not allow his physical limitations to prevent him from living life or helping others.
When the Chapter needed a board secretary, Ken stepped up and came back to the chapter and once again gave us his time. Even his last weeks were involved with a new direction of recreation. Ken had recently completed 2 of the 3 phases necessary of getting his open water certification in SCUBA.”
“Ken was truly comfortable underwater in the pool. Even though he couldn’t do all the skills independently, he always wanted to try everything. Nothing bothered him. We planned for him to complete his certification here in Minnesota later in the fall after his chemo treatments were finished. Wanting to dive in his lake where he had a cabin for many years, he said he always wanted to know what the bottom looked like. He really wanted to join the Pirates in Cayman Brac next year. I guess life isn’t always fair.”
Bill King, SSI Scuba Instructor, Northland Scuba