Col. (Ret.) Kenneth A. Kleypas

Col. (Ret.) Kenneth Allen Kleypas, 81, died, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015 in Lawton, Okla. He was born June 11, 1934 in Bryan-College Station, Texas to W.H. (Bill) and Johnnye Reese Kleypas.

Col. (Ret.) Kenneth Kleypas

He attended elementary school in Mineral Wells, Texas and moved to Hobbs, N.M.where he finished his schooling, graduating from Hobbs High school in 1951. Ken attended Texas A & M College and completed his undergraduate studies at New Mexico State University, earning his Bachelor of Science in Business Engineering. He later completed his Masters Degree in Psychology at the University of Kansas.

While at NMSU he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, and went on to become a founding member. He was also very active in Student Government, serving as student body Vice president. His life was full of challenges and some said he had “Renaissance man” tendencies. He climbed telephone poles, dug telephone pole holes, built 5 strand barbed wire fences throughout New Mexico working for a county road crew, cleaned cattle guards,and worked in the oil fields as a rough-neck (where he was bitten by a rattlesnake). He also worked in the family electrical business “electrifying” the oil fields. At one point he and his best buddy were actually car hops. While in college he drove a school bus, washed dishes in the SAE house, assembled office furniture, attempted to sell freezers with food packages and many other interesting working opportunities. while a Junior at NMSU he married Joyce Green. They had 3 daughters together, and the marriage later ended in divorce.

After college Ken entered the US Army as a Distinguished Military Graduate and embarked upon his career in the Field Artillery. He ultimately served 28 years as an Army officer, being stationed at various posts in both the United States as well as abroad, living in Germany, Vietnam and Korea. Ken’s roles included many diverse and challenging capacities as a Commander and Operations officer. He served in the Pentagon as a legislative staff officer to the US congress. While in that position he was selected by the Army Chief of Staff to organize and direct the establishment of an office to direct the Vietnamese refugee relocation to the US. For this effort he was recognized by the Secretary of Defense for his leadership of this vital and important event that impacted thousands of people. Other assignments included the Defense Nuclear Agency, and commanding units in the XVIII Airborne Corps Artillery at Fort Bragg, Field Artillery units in Germany, Korea and California( a Nike Missile unit). In Vietnam he served on General Westmoreland’s personal staff, traveling with him and providing translation services and presenting the operational aspects throughout many countries that were supporting the war effort. Later Ken served as a Ranger Advisor to a Vietnamese unit and spent an abbreviated tour with Military Assistance Command Special Operation group. Ken spoke Vietnamese, German, Spanish and a smattering of others. He graduated from the Command and General Staff College, National War College and many other service schools.

After the NWC he served in United Nations Command Korea as Negotiator at Pan Mun Jom during some very tense and challenging times with North Koreans and Chinese across the table. His last military assignment was as Director, Counterfire Department, Fort Sill, Okla.

His military awards include: Combat Infantryman Badge, Legion of Merit (3), Bronze Star (2, one w/ V),Purple Heart (2), Air Medal (2), Meritorious Service Medal (3), Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army General Staff Badge for Pentagon Service, Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, Republic of Korea Legion of Merit(presented by President Pak Chung Hee) and numerous service medals. Ken retired from active military service on December 1, 1981 at Fort Sill, Okla. After retirement he began a second career with Hughes Aircraft Company ( now Raytheon Co.) as Regional Director. He established offices in Lawton, Okla. and had offices in Leavenworth, Kan. and El Paso, Texas. In this position he travelled extensively worldwide. Some of the key systems he introduced into the Army include the Firefinder radar system, Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data system, Ground Launched Laser Designator , Howitzer Crew trainer.

Community involvement includes member of the Lawton Chamber of Commerce (twice), Chairman of the Cameron University Foundation, Chairman Lawton Airport Authority, Board of Trustee Southwest Medical Center, President Lawton Rotary Club (Paul Harris Fellow), member of the NMSU International Foundation, Salvation Army, YMCA Board, America Cancer Board, Military Order of World Wars, Military Officers Association, Boulevard of Lights, Boy Scouts Board, Association of US Army and the Field Artillery Association Board. In 1988 Ken was named NMSU Outstanding Alumnus of the Business College and a Distinguished Alumni. He also was recognized as one of the original President’s Partners from Cameron University and received the Distinguished Service Award.

In addition to these many achievements, Ken counted receiving a kidney transplant in 2001 as one of his greatest moments.

He was also an avid sportsman. He played baseball, basketball and football, ran track, was a member of the Army volleyball team, boxed Golden Gloves and was an excellent golfer, achieving the elusive hole-in-one in 1984. Although he enjoyed a variety of sports, he laughingly admits he was master of none.

Ken is survived by his caring and wonderful wife, Darlene, whom he was fortunate enough to marry in Leavenworth, Kan. in 1972. During their marriage, he and Darlene have shared an amazing love and life together. They have enjoyed many years of travel, seeing the world and enriching their lives with lasting memories and great friends. He is also survived by four daughter, Karen Brodsky (Richard), and her children: Christopher, Ryan, Sydney and Annie. Teri Best (Rob) and her son Michael as well as Michael’s daughter and Ken’s only great grandchild Londyn. Courtney (Vince) Coburn and her daughters: Lindsey and Hayley. Kiley McIlhaney (Trent) and their daughter Lily.

In his lifetime Ken was a warrior, athlete, father, grandfather, great grandfather, husband and above all a soldier and a patriot who believed in his country and God. Ken wanted to leave by saying “Adios and I just ran out of birthdays”.

Visitation beginning with the rosary will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, 2015, at the R.L. Leintz Funeral Home. Mass of Christian burial will begin at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, at Immaculate Conception Church. Burial with full military honors will follow at Mt. Calvary Cemetery. In lieu of flowers please make a donation to the Ken and Darlene Kleypas Memorial Scholarship in Pre-Nursing at Cameron University. Your gift can be mailed to Cameron University, ATTN: Office of Advancement, 2800 West Gore Boulevard, Lawton Oklahoma, 73505 or to the Guardian Angel Fund for Immaculata High School, 320 N. Broadway, Leavenworth, Kansas 66048.