Cover photo for Kenneth James Gilsdorf's Obituary
Kenneth James Gilsdorf Profile Photo

Kenneth James Gilsdorf

March 27, 1923 — August 12, 2022

Kenneth James Gilsdorf, age 99 of Shawnee, Kansas, passed away on August 12, 2022.

He was born to William Gilsdorf and Emma Cody Gilsdorf on March 27, 1923 in Lawrence, Nebraska. Kenny was the 4th of eleven children.  He grew up during the Great Depression, helping his family by farming and shearing sheep all over the Midwest.

He met the love of his life at Netawaka High School and just days before leaving for World War II, married Mary Lou Williams Gilsdorf on March 31, 1944. He spent 2.5 years stationed in Italy, receiving a bronze star and the rank of Tech Sergeant. Upon his return home, they started their family and lived on a farm by Havensville, KS but eventually moved to the Shawnee area in 1952.  Kenny and Mary had six children: Michael, Susan, Rita, David, Scott, and MaryAnn. In 1974 when Rita passed away, Kenny and Mary raised her two children Eric and Michelle as their own.  He was always proud of and cherished his family.

Kenny built hundreds of houses, apartment buildings and office buildings around the Kansas City area as a carpenter and general foreman. He was considered one of the best carpenters in Kansas City by all of his associates.  Kenny switched occupations in 1974 to become a “batch man” for R.E.D. Concrete Company. He retired in 1988 but kept doing part time carpentry work until he was over 90 years of age. Kenny was an extremely giving person of his time and talent. He loved to play cards, was an excellent hunter, and for many years Mary and Kenny spent the winters in Donna, Texas, near friends and relatives. He will most be remembered as someone who would help out in any situation and have fun doing it.

Mary and Kenny were members of the Santa Fe Trail/Highway 56 Association. They were also instrumental in the development of Old Shawnee Town.  One of the greatest adventures of his life was preparing for and traveling down the Santa Fe trail in miniature covered wagons. It took a year to prepare for the 5-week journey that took place in 1965 with his family and 25 other children. Kenny purchased, broke, and trained the horses and he made the wagons.  Mary made the pioneer costumes and wagon covers.

Kenny and Mary celebrated their 78th wedding anniversary on March 31, 2022. They had visitors daily which is a testament to their character and hospitality. Kenny will be joining his wife Mary in heaven, just 25 days after her passing. The love story continues.

Kenny is survived by 5 children, 16 grandchildren and 38 great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be Thursday August 18, 2022 from 6-8 pm at Amos Family Funeral Home. A rosary will be prayed at 5:30 pm. Funeral Mass will be Friday August 19, 2022 10:00 am at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Shawnee and burial at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery in Lenexa.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Kenneth James Gilsdorf, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Thursday, August 18, 2022

Starts at 5:30 pm (Central time)

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Thursday, August 18, 2022

6:00 - 8:00 pm (Central time)

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Mass of Christian Burial

Friday, August 19, 2022

Starts at 10:00 am (Central time)

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St. Joseph Catholic Church

11311 Johnson Drive
Shawnee, KS 66203

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