Kenneth L. Zimmerlee, 81, of Oroville, Washington, passed away on June 14, 2020 at Central Washington hospital in Wenatchee, Washington.
A debilitating stroke from a TVAR stint heart valve replacement surgery left him blind and cognitively impaired. He succumbed to his ordeal under the palliative care of the very caring and compassionate team of doctors and nurses while in the Central Washington hospital.
Ken was born in Ashland, Oregon on July 26, 1938 and grew up on his family’s dairy farm in Ashland, Oregon. He was a professional chef his whole life and began helping his mother cook in her kitchen around the age of six.
In 1988 he moved to the beautiful Okanogan Highlands of Washington state carving out of the wilderness a homestead and building a beautiful cabin.
In 1992 he was hired as head cook for the Senior Meal program (OCTN) hosted at the Oroville Senior Center. In 2005 he moved from the highlands to Oroville where he continued to work at the Senior Center for a total of 23 years. He was loved by all who knew him there and the people loved his great meals, creativity and delicious flavors he was so famous for. He loved cooking in his own unique way using many herbs and spices that are sometimes overlooked by many cooks.
Ken’s military service included four years in the U.S. Navy with an Honorable Discharge from Fighter Squadron 51 in 1963 receiving a Good Conduct Metal First Award. Part of his tour of duty was stationed in Hawaii where many tropical foods were introduced to him that added interest and experience to his culinary pursuits.
Ken married Joyce Blunt of Ashland, Oregon in 1957, later divorcing. Ken is survived by his sister; Kathy (Jay) McMurtrey of Medford, Oregon; daughter, Mary (Brad) Wasmund of Ashland, Oregon; grandson, Brian Wasmund of Ashland Oregon; granddaughter Karley Wasmund of Medford, Oregon; great grandson, Kayne Wasmund; sister-in-law, Patricia Zimmerlee of Ashland, Oregon and his life partner of 42 years, Jim Weaver of Oroville, Washington.
There will be no funeral services. No memorials are planned at this time. Everyone who knew him may celebrate him quietly in their own unique way.