PROFILE OF A MUSEUM VOLUNTEER
Ken Luft's story began on April 17,1939 in an area of Fresno, California called German Town. He was the second son born to Bert and Katherine Luft, who were first generation Americans of Russian-German decent. Ken and his brother Don grew up in a modest 400 square foot home playing war games with metal toy soldiers. Ken attended Kirk grammar and Edison high schools thru the seventh grade when the family moved to the Roosevelt district. Ken graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1957, where he was president of the Green and Gold Club, played the clarinet in the marching band and was a two year letterman on the varsity football team. He refers to this time in his life as the "Happy Days" - or - the quiet years between the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
During Ken's senior year he and his pals enlisted in the 144th Fighter Interception Group, a California Air National Guard outfit that recently transferred from Hayward. After graduation, Ken spent the next three months of basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. On the first day of training, he was assigned as an Element Leader; a position he held until returning to Fresno. During Ken's six year stint he was a fire fighter, office clerk, and ended his career in Unit Supply. In October, 1962 the airbase was placed on high-alert due to the Cuban missile crisis and Ken was assigned to stand guard all night by the airplanes with only a night-stick in hand.
Ken first met the love of his life, Betty, at Edison High School in 1951. They met again at Roosevelt in the 10th grade and went together in their senior year. They were married June 11, 1960 and have two wonderful children, Brian and Karen, six grand children and one great grandchild (so far). In January 1962, Ken earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Technology - Electrical Option, and a minor in Business. He was hired by Pacific Gas and Electric Company as an engineering estimator in the electric department in Fresno where he designed overhead electrical distribution systems. In 1964 he was promoted to a District Representative in Los Banos. He moved his family again in 1965 to Bakersfield when he became a Commercial Lighting Representative; designing lighting applications for commercial, industrial and agricultural customers. Ken's next promotion was in 1968 to an Industrial Power Engineering position in San Jose. The assignment included assisting the largest gas and electric customers in the area. Ken returned to Fresno in 1973 as a supervisor in the residential department. When the cost of energy began to escalate in the mid 1970's, he was asked to form a conservation section in the San Joaquin Valley (from Merced to Bakersfield). This Department developed and implemented programs to assist P.G.& E.'s commercial, industrial, agricultural and residential customers in conserving energy. These programs still are a major function of the utility today. Ken retired from P.G.& E. after 31 years of service.
He has spent the last 21 years of retirement as a part time assistant in the funeral business. Ken and Betty started to travel during the 1980's, following their son, Brian, who played football for the University of Southern California and then the New York Jets. Upon retiring, they have traveled extensively around the world on wonderful cruises and overland European tours. From Boston to watch their grandson play football for Harvard University to Athens, Georgia seeing their granddaughter play volleyball for the University of Georgia. They now enjoy the quiet relaxation of California's beautiful central coast. In May 2015, Ken became a docent at the Veterans Memorial Museum "Home of the Legion of Valor" at his brother Don's invitation. Don is also a docent. The gathering of warriors and the historic stories they share make Ken's time at the museum ever so enjoyable.