Former Fox Lake mayor, funeral home operator Kenneth Hamsher dead at 91

Friends said former Fox Lake Mayor Kenneth K. Hamsher, owner of K. K. Hamsher Funeral Home, was an "institution" in the community who be missed after his death Sunday. He was 91.

"He was an extremely strong individual who would do anything for anyone in need," said longtime friend Pete Jakstas, owner of the Mineola Marina in Fox Lake, who worked with Hamsher in the 1950s. "He was a proud man and a super individual who will surely be missed."

Hamsher was mayor from 1993 to 1997, after serving two terms as a trustee, from 1971 through 1975 and 1989 through 1993.

Fox Lake Mayor Donny Schmit said Hamsher has been an "institution" in the village for many years, and his death is a big loss for the community.

"He's been a great friend and community leader in our town for, like, forever," Schmit said. "He was a good businessman and, more importantly, a great man. He will be sorely missed."

Hamsher, who once lived in Johnsburg, was born in Flint, Michigan in October 1922, was a veteran of the U.S. Navy during World War II and a charter member of the Johnsburg (Volunteer) Rescue Squad.

He had owned and operated the K. K. Hamsher Funeral Home since 1953. Hamsher also operated an ambulance service in Fox Lake and provided emergency care to the village and the surrounding communities before the start of the Fox Lake Rescue Squad. In his obituary, family members said Hamsher delivered 13 babies for residents in need.

"I worked for him part-time on the service for about five or six years," Jakstas said. "He was he only person that made me feel safe when he was driving 110 mph on a way to a call."

Family members said Hamsher loved boating on Chain O' Lakes, was an avid Chicago Bears fan and had a great love of animals.

Hamsher was a longtime member of St. Bede Catholic Church in Ingleside, the Fox Lake Chamber of Commerce, American Legion Post 703, Fox Lake Lions Club, the Lakeland Cardinals Football Team, and was a sponsor of the Blind Bowlers Association and the Grant Township Little League.

He was also a member of the Lake County Sheriff's Merit Commission and served one term on the Grant High School District 124 board.

"You know, I only knew four people in the village when I first moved here," Hamsher said in a previous Daily Herald story. "To think the people would give me the honor of becoming mayor is just amazing."

Hamsher was honored in 2003 as the grand marshal of Korpan's Christmas Parade in Fox Lake. He was spotted in many Fox Lake parades driving his refurbished 1927 Meteor Hearse.

"I think that it was extremely nice that they asked me to do it," Hamsher said in the 2003 Daily Herald story. "I have a lot of good memories here. I've had a wonderful life."

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