Kenneth Michael Killion passed away after a brief illness on June 20th, 2015 in Ventura with his daughters at his side. A member of the Silent Generation, Mike grew up during WWII in a quieter Santa Barbara that would later be described as Hannibal by the Sea. He was proud of his family’s local history which can be traced back to the Marquis de Bejar’s arrival in Santa Barbara over two centuries ago.
While Mikes dad served aboard PC-1177 the USS Guymon across the Pacific in WWII, Mike and his Pilgrim’s Terrace buddies were messing around Mission Creek, the foothills and local beaches. He was doted over by both sets of grandparents in Santa Paula and Santa Barbara while his mother worked to support the war effort. His stories of fishing the Rincon and the Ventura River with his grandfather’s described a time when the Ventura River yielded Steelhead Trout and the Rincon kelp forests were thick with fish.
Mike loved to share his stories about commercial fishing up and down the California coast on the Montalvo with his cousin Art Killion. The Montalvo was eventually renamed the Spaniard by Tony Rios and is still a fixture on the Santa Barbara waterfront.
After completing his coursework at Santa Barbara High School Mike joined the US Navy serving aboard the AO-52 USS Cacapon. The ship’s motto was “Find’em, Fuel’em, Forget’em”. He was later stationed in Brownsville Texas where he performed the duties of Editor of the base newspaper. When asked about his short stint as a Chaplain’s assistant he explained that the position provided for more time “off” base which at one point allowed for a unique encounter with one Baldemar Huerta aka Freddy Fender. He became a lifelong fan.
Mike attended the California Maritime Academy following his honorable discharge from the Navy. He survived the horrific 1962 train accident in Buenaventura Colombia during a liberty excursion from the TS Golden Bear. Back in California his mom, a Powder Puff Derby Pilot, would fly him to and from the bay area in her Beechcraft Bonanza.
Mike married his high school sweetheart, Aimee McCabe, and went to work in the family Union Oil business with his father Ken Killion, his uncle Warren Killion and his cousin Bill Cox in Santa Barbara and Ventura. He owned and operated his own service station in Carpinteria in the mid 1960’s. In the 70’s Mike pursued studies in Botany at Cal State Fullerton and U.C.S.B. His thirst for knowledge never ceased.
Following his father’s death, Mike began a long career with the City of Ventura. It was during this period that he moved aboard a boat in Ventura Harbor with his children and reignited his love affair with the water. Over the years he became a constant within the Ventura Harbor community. In the early 80’s he met and married his beloved Barbara.
Mike always had a second job, putting in 16 hour days to provide for his family without complaint. He spent many years delivering newspapers for the Star Free Press. At one point, he had over 700 daily customers which made him a world champion newspaper folder/thrower. All of his children chipped in on holidays when they were in town which made him very happy.
Mike retired from the city in 2003 and reactivated his lifelong interest in motorcycles. He crossed the continent four times alone, priding himself on traveling light and needing little. In retirement he spent several years living and working alongside his son Andy at Anchors Way Marine in Ventura and Channel Islands Harbors.
Always a friend to the honest and the less fortunate, Mike was a force to be reckoned with and was never afraid to share his opinions. He lived a simple life without the material trappings of his successful existence. Mike loved to recommend and give books and music to family members and new acquaintances alike.
Mike is survived by his mother Sandra Killion, sister Deirdre Dugan, wife Barbara Killion, his daughters; Jennifer Elliott, Addie Moore, Janice Killion and son Andy. He is also survived by grandchildren; Brandon, Cameron, Carly, Christopher, Corey, Jack, Jacob and Michaela.
Please honor Mike by recommending the gift of literature, questioning authority on a regular basis and helping the needy around us without pride or condition. A memorial for Mike is scheduled for this fall following his interment at the family plot in Carpinteria, CA. For details or to share a Mike story please connect with Andy Killion on Facebook, this blog or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.