Tribute to Ken Waido

By Larry Weil, Director of Community Development, West Fargo, ND

A tribute to Ken Waido, who passed away June 14th, written by friend and fellow WP board member, Larry Weil.

Ken with his friends at a Western Planner conference.  Ken Waido, right; Joanne Garnett, center; Larry Weil, left; Ben Orsbon, back.

Ken with his friends at a Western Planner conference.

Ken Waido, right; Joanne Garnett, center; Larry Weil, left; Ben Orsbon, back.

The Western Planner was established in 1979 by Stan Steadman as a sole proprietorship.  Stan established an Editorial Board to assist with article solicitation.  In 1980 Colorado Chapter APA associated with The Western Planner.  Initially the Editorial Board member representing Colorado was Karen Smith, although Ken Waido was active in the organization as soon as the Colorado Chapter was associated.  Karen retired from her Editorial Board position and was replaced by Ken in July 1984.  Ken was a very active member on the Board, advocating for Western Planner, contributing articles, organizing and presenting at conferences, maintaining and updating the bylaws as needed, and holding several offices including President, Vice President and Treasurer.  Ken lead The Western Planner during the purchase of the sole proprietorship and incorporation of the organization in 1989.  He was also part of the leadership team which lead The Western Planner through the transition of Editors from Stan Steadman to David Conine to Steve Kurtz to Debbie Ehlers to Rachel Girt, which continually advanced the organization to new and improved levels of communication and networking.

As Chief Planner for Fort Collins Colorado, Ken was proud of the City he worked for and shared with The Western Planner at conferences and board meetings many of the planning experiences the City faced.  Ken was instrumental in developing and administrating an innovative performance zoning code, the Land Development Guidance System which drew national and international acclaim.  The Better Affordable Housing leadership team from Norway came to Fort Collins to learn more about the community’s approach to planning and urban growth management.  They were so impressed that the City was invited to Norway to give presentations, so Ken managed to go to Norway.

Ken also had athletic skills, so as big and good as he was at athletics, it took double measure to play with him, and even then it was no match.  In softball he could hit the ball out of the park.  Problem was at many Wyoming vs the World Softball games at the Western Planner Conferences, we weren’t confined by a ballpark, so when he hit the ball it went so far that he could have rounded the bases twice before the ball was retrieved.  He was known to eat a steak as an appetizer and then another one for the main course.

There are a number of stories of road travels that were a little dicey too.  He always drove a van, and some trips involved icy roads on mountain passes with the van going sideways, getting lost in some mountain subdivisions and getting people car sick until finding establishments like “The Buck Snort” and “Willow the Whisp” where there was entertainment.  There are numerous memorable stories of being with Ken and sharing experiences in places across the West from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Homer, Alaska and from Bismarck, North Dakota to Vancouver, Washington.

Ken was an individual and character larger than life.  He gave of himself greatly, and involved his family while doing so, so he wouldn’t take away from his parental role.  He and his family became our WP family.  He will be fondly remembered and sorely missed.