Kenneth J. Sims


Kenneth J. Sims of Austin, MN passed away peacefully at his home, January 31, 2021, with his loving wife Mary at his side after a long illness.

Ken was born in Cheyenne, WY on March 5, 1944, to Theodore (Casey) and Gladys Sims and was the 5th sibling of nine children.  The family moved to the Davenport, IA area when he was in his early teens, and at age 17, Ken joined the US Navy where he served nine years with an honorable discharge in 1970.

Soon after Ken became a Federal Meat Inspector with the USDA.

On May 26, 1979, he married Mary Jean Sass in her hometown of Wabasha, MN. In 1983 they moved to Austin, MN, continuing his career with the USDA at Hormel Foods.  He started his own business, Ken’s Home Repair in 1983 until 1995. He retired from the USDA in 1999.

He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, brother, brother-in-law, uncle, and friend. His life was dedicated to Mary and their special needs son Gary. Through the years he enjoyed cooking for friend and family gatherings, gardening, woodworking, coin collecting, and playing around with inventions both quirky and practical. His family and friends admired him for his good common sense and sound advice. He was one who could be counted on, and he will be so missed by so many.

Ken is survived by his wife Mary, his children, Dale (Ann) from a previous marriage, Jennifer (Matt) Potocnik, and Gary. Five grandchildren, Skylar, Bridgette, Rachel, Ella, and Elliot, and two great-grandchildren Emma and Reagan. Siblings, Melvin, Betty, Charles, Glen, Sharon, Hazel, and Gary; nieces, nephews, and dear friends.

He is preceded in death by his parents and his brother Floyd.

There will be a Celebration of Life planned when it is safe for people to gather at our home in the backyard.

Our deepest gratitude goes to the Mayo Clinic Hospice of Albert Lea. To everyone who helped us through this time from Hospice staff, especially his nurse Jenny Ladwig, and his Social Worker Laura McKibbon. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Rochester Cremation Services is assisting the family with arrangements. Memories and condolences of Ken may be shared at


20 thoughts on “Kenneth J. Sims

  1. My dear sweet uncle. Your kind and loving nature was an inspiration to me. Thank you for all of the love you gave to Mary and Gary. You will be forever in our hearts.

  2. Throughout my life Ken has been a source of stability and guidance.
    The love that he and my mother possessed always has been, and always will be, a pure and unwavering inspiration to me.
    My children and I will hold the memories we have together forever in our hearts.
    He will be missed so greatly.

  3. My forever special friend——-i can not express enough the influence this man has had and has in my life , i will move forward with my life holding all our dear moments in my heart always, realizing that there will be a void always but feeling blessed that Ken was family. His kind heart, his compassion , his strength, his gentleness , his dedication to Mary and his eternal protection and love for his son Gary,. We will miss you— but knowing you have fulfilled what needed to be done here on earth and now you can receive your just reward .Dance with the Angels.

  4. Ken was so very special Mary, and I will miss our long conversations in your living room and his cheerful voice on the phone every time I called. Our family grieves with you and we send you all of our love.

  5. My sincerest condolences to the entire Sims family. RIP, Ken. You will always be in the hearts of everyone you touched.

  6. RIP.. I may have never been blessed with meeting you. But I know the love you and Mary (whom I call Mama Mary) shared was a beautiful love story. Keep watch over Mama Mary and all those loved ones. They will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  7. Sorry to hear of the loss of Ken, he was an amazing man and great care taker for his family. May the Lord provide the comfort you need during this difficult and trying time. Spending you love and prayers!

  8. Dear Sims Family. You have my deepest sympathies. I had the pleasure of being Ken’s supervisor for the USDA from 1991 through 1999. Ken was an excellent employee and always a pleasure to work with. I am praying for the Lord’s peace to be present with you during this time of grieving.

    David Needham, DVM
    Austin, MN

  9. I’m so sad to hear the news, Mary. I’m holding good thoughts for you and your family, and sending my love, as so many are right now. I hope that provides you with a little comfort.

    Some words from Emily Dickenson…

    If you were coming in the fall,
    I’d brush the summer by
    With half a smile and half a spurn,
    As housewives do a fly.
    If I could see you in a year,
    I’d wind the months in balls,
    And put them each in separate drawers,
    Until their time befalls.
    If only centuries delayed,
    I’d count them on my hand,
    Subtracting till my fingers dropped
    Into Van Diemen’s land.
    If certain, when this life was out,
    That yours and mine should be,
    I’d toss it yonder like a rind,
    And taste eternity.
    But now, all ignorant of the length
    Of time’s uncertain wing,
    It goads me, like the goblin bee,
    That will not state its sting.

  10. RIP Ken, what an amazing life you had, now your free of illness you can continue your hobbies in heaven.
    Condolences & love to Mary & her family for their great loss, Ken will always be by your side. Love xxx

  11. Every interaction I had with Ken was positive. He either wanted to help me or do something for me, including fixing me an excellent breakfast. An all around good man.

  12. Dearest Mary,
    My heartfelt sympathy I send across the miles my dear friend, for love reaches no matter how far. Hugs to you and Gary xx

  13. Dear Mary
    Ken was a friend of mine too. We know the things he did for me. He helped me without even knowing me. I phoned and we spoke a few times and had fun. He said he had been to Argentina once.
    May he rest in peace and that my friend Mary feel the love of her friends and family from around the world.

  14. Dear Mary and family I am sending you love and prayers at this sad time. Ken will always walk beside you , lots of love, Donna xxx

  15. Ken “trained” me in when Quality Pork Processors began operation in 1989. He was very interested in maintaining the integrity of the product with a graciousness with the authority of the USDA and using common sense. He also understood the importance to the workers that the Company needed to be successful for the employees sake without risking any USDA standards. When I asked about his family he referred to his wife, but I remember specifically that he spoke of his son and his abilities, not so much his disabilities, but Ken stated that his son had the unique ability to discern people, on whether those people would be loving or not. Ken thought that example of his son was what most of us could use, along with that type of judgement to better understand that how we behave matters. Simple and profound! Ken had an impact on the lives he touched. May the Lord bless his memory your hearts and provide comfort to your family.

  16. I’m so sorry for your loss Mary and family. I enjoyed the conversations ken and I would have when I would come for Gary. I will always remember the vacuum cleaner! Sending love to you all.

  17. Mary at this hard time know that Ken is watching over both you & Gary. Al always enjoyed working with Ken. He will be missed. Fly high my friend. Al and Barb McAlister

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