In Memoriam: Ken Balsley, Class of 1960, 2021 OHS Distinguished Alumnus Award Winner

Ken Balsley, an omnipresent figure in Lacey who chronicled and boosted the fortunes of the city he called home, died after suffering a heart attack Tuesday afternoon, February 28, 2023, according to his wife Jan Teague. He was 80.

Ken was born Nov. 22, 1942, in Charles City, Iowa. He was a 1960 graduate of Olympia High School, served in the U.S. Army and graduated from The Evergreen State College in Olympia in 1973, according to his book. He went on to work as a reporter, editor and photographer for the Lacey Leader, a newspaper that was formed in 1966 and ran until about 1980. His wife shared that much of the work he did for the paper was later donated to the Lacey museum.

Ken also worked for local radio stations, the North Thurston Public Schools and in public relations, but perhaps was best known for the newsletter he started in August 1991 called Ken's Corner and The Real News, which eventually attracted 464 subscribers, according to his book. The newsletter went away, but he continued to write about Lacey and share his opinions, which could be strong. Ken also interviewed local figures on Olympia radio station KGY for a weekly show called "Coffee with Ken." Besides his love for the city and its history, he also was a longtime supporter of Rotary International. He was a member of Lacey Rotary and enjoyed visiting the other clubs in the area. It was a big part of his social life. Ken also served on the city of Lacey's historical commission and parks board.

He was a paratrooper in the Army and had a marksman designation during his military service as a young man. In addition to his wife, Jan Teague, he is survived by a brother, Roger Balsley, and sister, Jan Manberg; a son, Brad Balsley; and his stepchildren, Mark Valerio, Dennis Tinney, Dawn Gibbs and Tony Valerio. He liked to brag about how many grandchildren he had but he had many nieces and nephews he loved and enjoyed as well.

In 2021, Ken was inducted into the Olympia High School Hall of Fame as the recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award for his many professional and voluntary contributions to his community. Click here to watch Ken's acceptance of the award:

A Celebration of Life, will be held Friday, April 24, 2023, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Worthington Center at Saint Martin's College in Lacey.

Download PDF