Gordon Kenneth Bartol, a longtime Edmonds School District teacher and administrator, passed away peacefully on January 13, 2021 with his loving partner Penny Todd at his side. Through a short and devastating illness they promised one another they would not be separated and for this gift they will remain eternally grateful.
He was born in Spokane, Washington, June 7. 1937 to Myrtle and William Bartol. His parents’ families had been early homesteaders in Northeastern Washington. His dad got a job teaching in Clarkston, Washington where, two years later, Ken’s brother Keith was born. At the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers and Lewis and Clark trail, Clarkston was an idyllic place to grow up. Although Ken loved his life in Edmonds, he always went home for the class of ’55 reunions. He made friends easily and kept them, but those friendships made in childhood were pure gold and became even more precious in his later years.
He pledged Sigma Alpha Epsilon at WSC, where he met pretty Marcia Peterson, who would become his wife and mother of sons Craig and Matthew. Ken completed his bachelor’s degree at Eastern Washington University and accepted a teaching job in the Edmonds School District. He and Marcia built a house in the Seaview neighborhood. Although the marriage did not last, their commitment to raising their sons did.
Ken’s long teaching career was at the junior high level by choice. In those awkward years of angst and rebellion he always saw the potential in each student. He was firm but fair in his discipline and wise in his counseling. He began as a math teacher and then got his counseling certification and administrative papers. Most of his nearly forty year career was as a vice principal.
Ken loved the great outdoors where he fished, camped, hiked and mowed his grass year around. He was the neighbor who would blow the leaves off of your driveway after he finished his own just to see your smile and did the same when snow fell. At 83 he was still climbing ladders to sweep the roof despite Penny’s protests. In the summer, they were that “older couple” on the beach near the ferry dock with their books and picnic dinner.
Ken was the greatest builder and tender of campfires. Even in pouring rain he could coax an ember into a flame. It was an art that brought us together to warm our chill, toast a s’more, sing a song or just enjoy being with family and friends. Every time we smell a sweet waft of smoke from a campfire, Ken will be with us.
In the more than twenty happy years Ken and Penny had together, they became avid world travelers starting with a trip to Scotland in 2001. Ken loved Italy, which was his heritage. They had an amazing trip to China, cruised the Panama Canal, explored the Baltic, Mediterranean, and Adriatic Seas and were in the Beaujolais for the vendange with their Edmonds coffee group, They were left awestruck by the beauty of Denali National Park and loved Yellowstone. They left their hearts in Venice on their last trip.
Even when traveling, Ken would stop to help a fellow traveler having difficulty with stairs or a wheelchair. He was an extremely kind human being who always put other’s needs above his own. He was truly a person who made this world a better place for everyone. He will be greatly missed and not soon forgotten.
He is survived by his son Craig Bartol, wife Dana and sons Zachary and Connor of Mequon, Wisc. and son Matthew Bartol, wife Lara and daughters Megan and Erin of Morgan, Utah. He is survived by his brother Keith Bartol and his wife Carolyn of Edmonds, and their daughter Shelly Franz and husband Bill of Mukilteo and their son Brad Bartol of Cashmere. He was treasured by Penny’s four children Stephanie, James, Matthew and Jennifer. He was loved by Penny’s grandchildren: Anna, Brandon, Tess, Riley and Cameron, who all called him “Grandpa Ken.” Ken’s parents came from large families who have remained very close through the years with many cousins who have maintained cherished relationships.
His ashes will be interred beside his parents in the Vineland Cemetery in Clarkston, Washington on Saturday July 10 at 10:30 AM.
Gordon Kenneth Bartol 1937 -2021