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Spaceflight Institute™

We Lost A Good Friend September 5, 2011

We lost a good friend last month.  William Kenneth Miller, “Kenny”, 62, of Port Republic, Maryland, passed away suddenly on September 5, 2011 at his home. Kenny was born on July 30, 1949 in Morgantown West Virginia. He worked for 25 years on Capitol Hill as a Congressional Case worker, and then went to work at Safeway in the produce department for over 20 years.   

 So what did Kenny (or just Ken, as I called him) have to do with our organization?  I guess you would call him a benefactor.  A little background - I met Ken back in 2002 when I needed some help picking a good cantaloupe.  Ken tried to teach me what to look for, but to this day, unless he picked one out for me, I was toast.  My family said that I am fruit-challenged. 

 In order for us to hold our Spaceflight Institute™ programs, we need a lot of supplies.  One item we need is good strong paper tubes.  Students use them to make everything from rockets to lunar bases.  I am not talking about toilet paper or paper towel rolls.  I am referring to the heavy duty tubes.  The Safeway produce department is full of them.  The plastic produce bags come rolled on them, and the smaller bags come on green plastic tubes, perfect for spacecraft construction.  Of course, they all get thrown away.  In 2004, I asked Ken if he could save some tubes for me.  Ken said sure.  No problem.  Ken did more than that.  He got everyone in produce on the bandwagon for us.  I picked up a box of tubes almost every week.  To give you an idea how much Ken helped out the students with this one act of kindness, let me give you an idea as to how much tubes cost.  12 inch tubes cost us about $1-2 each.  I received on average 15 tubes a week from him.  That’s 780 tubes a year!  If we had to buy them, it would cost us over $1100 per year.  He did this every year for 8 years, which saved us over $9,300, which is quite a contribution!  I spoke to his wife Cheryl recently, and she had no idea he had been helping us all these years.  I told her that he was an unsung hero, and I was lucky enough to have met him back in 2002, and to call him a friend.

 We are all going to miss you Ken.  Thank you for everything you did for us.  There are approximately 1000 students throughout Maryland that also thank you.  Your family at Safeway called you “Super Ken”, and so do we. 

Alan Hayes