Kenneth M. Messersmith, 96, died Saturday, March 3, 2018 at Highland Park Care Center. He was born Feb. 6, 1922, in Antioch to homesteading pioneer ranchers F.E. and Luva (Roberts) Messersmith.
On March 7, 1942, he was united in marriage to Verna Glenn in the corner of her parents’ living room in rural Wood River starting together with only their clothes and faith. This union lasted for one month short of 70 years when Verna predeceased him. To this union seven children were born and raised on the ranch northeast of Alliance.
Ken was lifetime member of the Methodist Church with 20 years in Hemingford and the remaining in Alliance. He served on nearly all the church committees. He became a Certified Lay Speaker and conducted worship services in nearly all Northwest Nebraska District churches.
Ken loved to garden and see things grow. He planted trees because they would outlive him to benefit the next generation. His plantings included 110 green ash trees on the Box Butte County Fairgrounds and nine livestock shelterbelts on the ranch.
He was an avid storyteller, which he enjoyed sharing with friends over a good card game. Family get-togethers brought him great joy and time to spend with his grandchildren. In later years, lunch with the Over-the-Hill Gang supplied many good times for reminiscing. He authored 20 books covering his life experiences and the many changes that occurred.
In addition to his life-long love of breeding, advertising, and selling registered Hereford cattle, Ken was very active in the community. He served on the Box Butte County Fair board for 37 years, 4-H club leader for 20 years, secretary of rural school board District #100 21 years, charter member of the Nebraska Junior Stockgrowers, secretary of the Pioneer Consolidated Telephone Company, Hemingford Rural Fire Protection District board 10 years, secretary and charter member of Box Butte County 4-H Building Trust, and several other community activities. Later in life he was a member of the Box Butte Art Society where he enjoyed sharing his artistic talent in photography and scrap metal art works, esp. painted metal butterflies. Ken and Verna greatly appreciated being honored as 2006 Heritage Day Royalty and to have the Box Butte County Fair Premium Book dedicated in his honor.
He is survived by children, Calvin (Lois) Messersmith, Fargo, N.D., Shirley Messersmith, Holdrege, Keith Messersmith, Ellsworth, Sondra (Loren) Burnett, Columbus, Ken G. Messersmith, Kearney, Tom (Sara) Messersmith, Alliance, and son-in-law, Bob Delsing, Hemingford. He is also survived by 11 grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, seven step-great-grandchildren, three step-great-great-grandchildren, niece and nephew Beverly Gleason and Lyle Govig, and numerous other nieces and nephews.
Ken was preceded in death by his parents, wife Verna, daughter Karen Delsing, daughter-in-law Donaleen, and his six siblings (two sisters, four brothers).
Memorial services will be 10:30 a.m. Friday, July 6, at the Alliance United Methodist Church with Rev. Dr. Gideon Achi officiating. Inurnment will be in the church columbarium. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the United Methodist Church or Dobby’s Frontier Town.