With thanksgiving in our hearts for a life-well lived, the family of Kenneth Paxton Zabel announces his passing. Ken died February 21, 2012 at Brandon Woods of Alvamar. He leaves behind a loving family with lasting memories of a husband, father, brother, grandfather, uncle and friend.
Ken was born October 3, 1937 on a farm near Wetmore, Kansas, the first of three children to Mary (League) Zabel and Kenneth George Zabel. He graduated Wetmore High School in 1956 where he played on the varsity basketball team. Ken then moved to Lawrence to attend The University of Kansas where he met his bride, Cheryl (Davis) Zabel. They were married June 18, 1960 in Independence, Missouri. Cheryl survives of the home.
Ken graduated from the University of Kansas in 1961 with a degree In English, and then earned his Medical Degree, also from the University of Kansas, in 1965. He completed his medical internship and residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center in 1969 and began his medical practice in Pittsburg, Kansas. Ken went on to practice medicine in Pittsburg for 22 years, until his retirement in 1991.
While in Pittsburg, Ken and Cheryl were extremely active in a variety of community and civic organizations and very active in their church, where Ken served in the priesthood. While managing a very busy medical practice, Ken also served on the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, served as team physician for various Pittsburg State University athletic teams and coached his children’s sports teams. As one of the first board certified geriatric physicians in the state, Ken was instrumental in starting up the first hospital-based hospice care center in Kansas. He received many awards for his community and professional contributions over the years and made treasured friendships among professional colleagues.
Although accomplished professionally, Ken was a farm boy at heart and loved spending time outside doing yard work, tending to his garden, and fishing. He loved the mountains and made many trips to Colorado over the years to enjoy their beauty. Hobbies included painting and reading, especially WWII history books. More than anything Ken modeled a strong faith in God, and loved his wife, family, and the Kansas Jayhawks.
Survivors include four children, Michael Zabel and wife Debra of Lawrence; Deborah (Zabel) Galbraith and husband Richard of Lawrence; Dwight Zabel and wife Staci of Branson, Missouri; David Zabel of Lawrence. Ken is survived by two sisters, Virginia (Zabel) Matthews and husband Donald of Independence, Missouri and Mary Coleen (Zabel) Shorten of Kansas City, Missouri; sister-in-law and brother-in-law Jeannette (Davis) Day and Richard Day of Independence, Missouri. Ken also leaves behind 8 grandchildren: Matt and Lauren Zabel; Andrew and Carrie Galbraith; Morgan, Lexi and Tanner Zabel; Collin Meatte. Ken is lovingly remembered as “Uncle Pax” to eight nieces and nephews and many other young people he mentored throughout his life.
A memorial service honoring the life of Ken will be held Saturday, March 3 at 1:00pm at Community of Christ Church, 1900 University Drive in Lawrence.
Memorial contributions may be made in his name to Community of Christ Church in Lawrence through Warren-McElwain Mortuary.