Owatonna Loses Great Civic Leader
The west rink at Four Seasons Centre in Owatonna is named, in part, after Ken Wilcox. A bench in Central Park also bears his name in honor of his work with the Owatonna Foundation. Those two memorials barely scratch the surface of ways Wilcox contributed to the quality of life in Owatonna. Wilcox passes away Saturday, October 3 in Golden Valley. He was 85.
The funeral announcement from Michaelson Funeral Home states, "Ken made his mark on Owatonna through service in many roles and organizations, such as the Owatonna Foundation (secretary-treasurer, president), Southern MN Initiative Fund, Owatonna Incubator, co-chairman and member of the board of Overseers Gainey Conference Center, Trinity Luther Church (church council, trustee, Trinity Foundation, usher), Owatonna Jaycees (including Boss of the Year Award), Owatonna People's Press (Shoulder to the Wheel Award)"
"Owatonna Chamber of Commerce, United Way, Owatonna Arts Center, Rotary (Paul Harris Fellow), Elks Club, Blue Line Club, Owatonna Country Club, and the Owatonna Curling Club. Ken also served as a board member of the Minnesota Bankers Association, where he served on many committees, including legislative committees."
Wilcox was "instrumental in brining indoor hockey to Owatonna as an organizer and chief fundraiser (for) the original Four Seasons Centre and the later expansion...a rink at the Four Seasons named after him and his friend and fellow hockey booster Ken Austin, as well as through a scholarship that he and Norma funded for high school hockey players." It was through Wilcox's influence that the spelling of the arena uses the Canadian spelling of "Centre."
In 2018 Wilcox was in attendance at the 50th anniversary celebration of Owatonna hockey. Wilcox was a longtime color commentator with Todd Hale during coverage of Indians hockey on AM 1390 KRFO. Hale said Wilcox was a great man, very smart and important to the community. And a great color commentator, even if a bit late in arriving to the games.
Hale stated, "He was a very busy man at the bank. And many times he worked in his office down there at Norwest Bank until minutes before the puck was dropped. I'd be on the air with the preliminary stuff for the game. And I kept looking, 'Where the heck is my color man. He's not here yet.'
"Just about the time they get the Star Spangled Banner going here he comes in the door off of Elm Street, in his suit and tie, because he hadn't time to change to his hockey regalia. And he'd climb the ladder to the box and he was there in time to get the game started."
Hale said it was similar for leaving town for road games, "I'd pull up to his house and Norma would come running out. She says, 'Ken's still at the bank. But he's on his way.' And I thought, 'I got to get stuff up top. I want to make sure the line's working and everything. But I stood there at the car and waited for him.." Hale said it was because Wilcox was involved in some many groups and helping out so many causes.
Wilcox, born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, met his wife-to-be Norma at a dance in her hometown of Riverton, Manitoba. He began a career in finance in 1956 and came to Owatonna in 1963. Wilcox served as a bank president from 1976 to his retirement in 2000.
Read the full announcement from Michaelson Funeral Home. A small family service will be held Friday, October 9 at 2 pm at Trinity Lutheran Church in Owatonna. A live stream can be viewed at www.wearelivetoday.com/celebration-of-life. The announcement indicates "we look forward to having a community Celebration of Life at a later time when we can do so safely with our loved ones in Owatonna and extended family in Canada."