Kenneth Leroy Lillard, 84, of La Grande, died March 19 at his home. A celebration of life will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at the First Christian Church of La Grande. There will be a viewing from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at Loveland Funeral Chapel.

Ken was born in Yale, Okla., on Jan. 22, 1924, to Frank and Sadie Lillard. He graduated school in Lovell, Wyo., in 1941, and attended Radio Broadcasters School of America in Beverly Hills, Calif.

He moved to Portland in 1944 and worked at KVAN Radio in Vancouver, Wash. He went to work for KLBM Radio in La Grande in December 1944 and became manager in 1952. He purchased KLBM in 1972 and put KLBM-FM radio on the air in 1977. He sold both stations in January 1985.

He received the Man of the Year award from the La Grande-Union County Chamber of Commerce in 1971. He received the Distinguished Citizens Award from the La Grande Jaycees in 1957 and was nominated for the same award a few years later.

Ken had been a member of the La Grande Lions Club, and served as president for one year. He had also been a member of the Elks Lodge, served on the board of directors of the Salvation Army, the Red Cross and chaired the Blood Drawing Program for several years.

He was a member of First Christian Church for more than 50 years, an elder and chairman of that board for many years, chair of the Worship Committee for many years, chairman of the congregation for one year, sang in Chancel Choir for about 50 years and was presented the Chancel Choir Emeritus Certificate.

He sang his first solo at age 13 in Winnett, Mont., and sang solos at the Christian Church, as well as many other La Grande churches. He sang with the Grande Ronde Symphony Singers, presented a number of concerts at the La Grande First Christian Church and elsewhere, presented many sermons in song, and sang at hundreds of funerals.

He served on the school board for nine years and was a member of the Knife and Fork Club, where he served as president and vice president. When the Salvation Army was robbed of Christmas money, Ken went on the air and said if everyone gave $1, the money would be replaced. The money was more than replaced.

He is survived by his wife Frances “Frankie’’ Lillard; sisters Neoma Palmer of Denver and Jewel Robinson of Tulsa, Okla.; brother Earl Lillard of Eugene; sons Gary Lillard of La Grande and Roger Lillard of Portland; and two grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents, sister Gladys, three brothers-in-law and one sister-in-law.

La Grande Observer – Obituaries for the week ending March 15, 2008 – Published March 12, 2008

Submitted by Dixie Ricer