Retired Seattle Police Officers Association

Last Ring

Take a moment to remember our friends and associates who have passed.

Ken Nelson #1795, retired Seattle Police Detective passed away on July 26, 2014. He was 88 years of age upon passing.

Ken was born and raised in Seattle. When World War II came along, he fudged on his age to join the Navy. He was a radar operator assigned to an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. After Japan’s surrender, Ken was discharged in 1946. But Uncle Sam still needed trained radar operators, so he signed a contract as a civilian with the Army for two years.
In late 1949 he went to work for Seattle Transit (now Metro) as a driver for a year. Then he went to work for Greyhound Bus Company as a driver because wages were higher. After three years, Ken got disgruntled driving buses. About this same time he married his wife Joanie.
Now being a family man with obligations, he needed a better job. So he joined the Seattle Fire Department in 1951. His brother-in-laws Bob Hanson #899 (later Chief of Police,) and Jim Hanson #830, were aware that Ken was a good pitcher and the SPD ball team needed one, so they started tantalizing Ken that while he was polishing fire rigs and doing other stationhouse chores, they were on the beat having fun. Ken was a tough nut – it took six years before this psychological warfare to have an effect. In 1957 he applied to the Police Department. Detective Wayne Larkin #1352, another former fireman, did the background. Ken passed with flying colors. He joined the baseball team and the Department, in that order, in the summer of 1957.
Ken spent 10 years working the Central Precinct, both East and West. In 1967 he transferred to the Detective Bureau, assigned to Burglary. About two years later he transferred to the Bunco/Check and Bomb Squad under Rod Jackson #1196. This was during the years that Seattle led the nation in bombings during the civil unrest years of 1968-1973. When the unrest settled down, Ken transferred again, this time to Homicide for his final years. Ken retired in 1978 with a total combined service time of 27 years.
Ken and Joanie continued to live in their North Seattle home for the next four years. Then in 1982 they moved to Sun Lakes, Arizona where Ken was a tireless community organizer of the Sun Lakes Senior Softball teams and player/manager.
Ken is survived by his wife of 63 years, Joanie; two sons, Dan and Ken Jr.; seven grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.