Kenny Esperas passed away on Tuesday, July 12, 2016 in Spokane, Wa unexpectedly from complications during recovery post hip replacement at Valley General Hospital.
Ken was born in Honolulu, Hawaii at Queens Hospital to Nina and Salvador Esperas. He was the 5th born of 8 children and grew up in Red Hill and Halawa. High School at Radford was special times. There, he played right tackle. The Radford Rams took the championship in 1970 where he was an honorable mention and an OIA State Champ.
Radford High School is also where he met his wife, best friend, and love of his life Darlene Esperas. Ken gave Darlene smiles in the hallway that were so big and bright, she had to look around her to see who he was looking at. A very shy Ken didn’t talk to Darlene but an opportunity presented itself one evening and he played the guitar and serenaded her all evening. Ken earned Darlene’s trust and love with his witty sense of humor, affection, crooners voice, and that big bright smile. After high school Ken received a football scholarship to Spokane Falls Community College and wrote Darlene from the Pacific Northwest. It was too much to be apart. Ken went back home to get her and they were married. He later attended his 40th Radford H.S. reunion where he got to see all of his small kid time friends.
They moved to Spokane, WA where they planted roots and had 3 children, Owen, Chan, and LeAnne. Sister-in-law Ann and niece Summer moved from Hawaii to join Ken and Darlene in the mainland. Being away from family and the Hawaiian culture they were able to establish their own network of friends. A network of friendships that run so deep and full of love they became Ohana. The Chock, Ribellia, Masaniai, Dang, Uahinui, Carter, and Bierig families to name a few. Together they were able to celebrate and spread the Aloha spirit.
Volleyball was the sport of choice in Ken Esperas’ household. He passed the love of the sport to his children whom he taught to play. He himself was an avid player and collegiate referee for SAVRA as well as the summer tournament Spike and Dig, where he formed many lasting friendships. Dale Goodwin, Barb Silvey, and the Twohig’s to name a few. His children played club ball and his sons went on to play at the Junior Olympics. Later his son Chan joined him in the joys of being a volleyball referee.
Ken’s dad, Salvador, played the tenor saxophone for the army band and passed on his love of music. From a very young Ken enjoyed singing and playing the bass, guitar, and ukulele. Music was a passion he shared with his wife and children whom he taught to play. In the 70’s he toured the Pacific Northwest as a member of Dondi and the Young Hawaiians. Expo ’74 was held in Spokane at Riverfront Park where Dondi and the Young Hawaiians shared Hawaiian music on the Chinese junk (boat and insert pic) Otter Bay contracted him and his best friend, Kai Uahinui, as Kaihehau and Keneki for dinner music. He enjoyed playing music for The Pacific Islander Association at their annual May Day Program. As his children grew up and shared his love of music, they joined him in a family band, Lokomaika’i. In Hawaiian it means, it’s the good feeling you get when you do something you enjoy. They did countless events that included weddings, nursing homes, Fall Folk Festival, private parties, and even funerals. In later years he enjoyed attending Live Aloha and participating in the kanikapila jam sessions, Blue Bridge Bash, Pakanini Bash, Yakima Bash, and Folklife Festival where he made more lasting and beautiful friendships. Keoki, Tui, Henry, Kai, Billy, and Paul were a few of his long-time friends he enjoyed jamming with. Onie Rendall is another beloved friendship from younger years to this day as she danced hula for Ken’s various different gigs and also shared her knowledge of the Hawaiian culture with his children. Ken and Kai played music for the local college luaus for Whitworth, Gonzaga, and Eastern for many years. Beyond that, music created rich memories for his family at home. His children would fall asleep to living room jams all whom have been serenaded since birth and had the joy of jamming together as adults. It was always a special treat when Ken sang duets with his wife Darlene. Brand New Key and Puff the Magic Dragon were the favorites the two would sing together.
Ken enjoyed taking his family on camping adventures. They camped on the Oregon Coast where the family went horseback riding on the beach and clam digging. He tried to convince his children that the clams were delicious! He showed them how to boil and shuck them only to crunch down on a sandy clam trying to fake a wonderful experience for his skeptical children as you heard the sound of teeth grinding sand. Later, his friend Skeeter, showed him how to prepare freshly caught clams and those were delicious and sand free. Camping at Priest Lake Idaho holds the fondest memories for both Ken and his family. It’s the place that reminded him of back home, Hawaii, the most. The family enjoyed huckleberry picking, swimming, rock water slides, and hiking to mention a few. Priest Lake also provided the family with moose sightings and a very close encounter with a black bear.
Ken was a true gift to this earth who had a big heart, many hobbies, and was a real family man. He enjoyed volunteering at the local food bank, Jacobs Well with his long-time friend John Dang, St. Vincent DePaul at his church, and later in life helping his son Owen do different events for Second Harvest Food Bank. He enjoyed a lifetime of fishing in his little aluminum boat. He took his family and friends, including the neighbors, Eric and Wendy Wood. Making jewelry was a past time he enjoyed with his wife Darlene. They would collect puka shells on the beach and make necklaces. Years later that joy was ignited again when his niece, Summer Hightower, discovered her love of jewelry as a young girl who now has a successful business, Veda Lux Boutique. He enjoyed making necklaces and selling them from time to time at her special events. Ken also enjoyed gardening with his wife Darlene and daughter LeAnne. They had gardens at home as well as multiple plots at the Grant Elementary community garden in the summer. He also enjoyed watching K drama with his wife and daughter as well. The shows were so gripping, watching K drama would be binge watching events. Ken also had a love for cooking. He loved cooking for his family, his friends, his kid’s friends, and even strangers. Every Christmas he would bake his very special almond and shortbread cookies. Made especially with aloha. He’s had the joy of walking his sister-in-law, Ann, down the isle to wed the love of her life, Brian Chavez. He was able to witness his oldest son, Owen, marry the love of his life, Barb, and enjoys his grandchildren Ryan and Maile.
Ken worked at Fasteners Inc. for 19 years and held multiple positions shipping and receiving, purchasing and outside salesmen. He retired from the City of Spokane after 17 years in parking enforcement. He came from a generation that worked hard. You show up and you do your job. Ken took pride in everything he did.
On February 16th 2011 He was diagnosed with renal failure (end stage kidney disease). He was extremely fortunate to only spend 1 year on dialysis. A lifetime friend and earth angel Jan Chock stepped up to see if she was a donor match. Amazingly the first and only candidate was a suitable match. The transplant was scheduled for February 14th (Valentine’s Day), she gave him the gift of life by donating a kidney.
Ken was a people person. He had something very special about him that gave him the ability to connect with people. He cared about them, He invested in them, He rejoiced in their successes, encouraged them to take risks, and was there protect them. Most notable, Ken had a wonderful sense of humor and enjoyed making people laugh. A cherished friend said it best, “Ken Esperas was the walking, living example, the personification of “PONO” because he was ALL THINGS GOOD in everything he did.”
He had the same go-to jokes his entire life that his loved ones still laugh at. Have you ever asked him for directions? If so, it went something like this… “Do you know where Joe Albi Stadium is?” and regardless of the answer he would always say “not over there.”
A memorial service for the beloved Ken Esperas will be at St. Francis of Assisi at 1104 W Heroy Ave, Spokane, WA 99205 on Saturday Aug 27, 2016 at 1:00 PM with a reception to follow at the same location in the event hall for a late lunch and to visit, share memories, music, and hulas. Sympathy cards can be mailed to the Esperas Family at P.O. Box 3966, Spokane, WA 99220.
We want to give a big MAHALO to the medical staff and specialists, SAVRA, family and friends who cared for him.
With our sincerest Aloha,
The family of Ken Esperas
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