Kenneth B. Wibecan Jr., died at his home in Schuyler Falls early Sunday morning, Aug. 6, 2017, a little more than a week shy of his 86th birthday.
His death was a result of injuries incurred in an auto accident five weeks earlier roughly a mile from his home. He recovered from a broken sternum, bruised heart and other injuries but was unable to endure a life severely limited by congestive heart failure requiring tethering night and day to oxygen sources.
Ken (he spurned the "neth" in his later years, insisting he be addressed or referred to as Ken) was born in Brooklyn Aug. 17, 1931, the son of Kenneth B. Wibecan Sr. and Lila Jeffers. His father was a gifted athlete who was, among other distinctions, a world-class sprinter.
Ken grew up in Brooklyn and graduated from Boys High School and Goddard College in Plainfield, Vt. His unusual intelligence was recognized in school early and affirmed by his lifelong membership in MENSA, which admits only people who have achieved certified IQ test scores in the top 2 percent of the population.
He was a tennis player and swimmer of some note, the latter of which paid off for him during the Korean War, where, as a member of the U.S. Army, he was assigned as a lifeguard to one of the installations bordering the fighting. In recent years he swam regularly with a group of friends at the pool at the CVPH Wellness and Fitness Center on the former Air Force Base. He was returning from that pool June 29, when he had what turned out to be his fatal accident.
A man of many and varied talents, his career included periods as a jazz disc jockey in New York City, a newspaper and magazine writer in California and Maryland, a lecturer at Compton College in Compton, Calif., and at Goddard and an editor for Harper & Row publishers and Modern Maturity magazine. During the past several years, he was a respected columnist for the Press-Republican with an enthusiastic following.
As a reporter, he covered Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963 and, for a time, annually covered the Playboy Jazz Festival in California.
Ken rarely tried any new activity at which he didn't excel. Just a few of his eclectic hobbies were work with stained glass, portrait painting, locksmithing and poetry. A book of his poetry and prose was published under the title, "Poet Warrior" in 2015.
He enjoyed many long and close associations with various people, some famous. Among people who called him a friend were Malcolm X, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and heavyweight boxing champion Floyd Patterson.
Survivors include a son, Brian Wibecan of Alabama; grandchildren, Leah and Josh Wibecan, natives of Massachusetts; a sister, Susan McIntosh of Poughkeepsie; and numerous cousins, nieces, nephews and close friends.
There will be no calling hours or funeral. Remembrances will be scheduled at a later date and appropriately publicized.
Arrangements are in the care of the Hamilton Funeral Home, 294 Mannix Road, Peru, 643-9055. To offer an online condolence, share a symbolic gesture, or share a photo in memory of Ken Wibecan please visit www.hamiltonfuneralhome.com
Published on August 9, 2017