Kenneth Dee Walters was born to Evan Dee Walters and Berniece Olive Harper on October 7, 1942 at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Los Angeles, California. In June of the following year, Kenneth’s father passed away. After Evan’s death, Berniece’s mother Olive Harper came to California from St. George to help care for Kenneth while Berniece worked. Every summer, Olive returned to St. George with Kenneth, where they lived for a few months with Olive’s son Ross Harper, his wife Floy, and their children. Six years after Evan passed away, when his mother remarried in June, 1949, Kenneth gained another father in Carl Peter Peterson. Kenneth’s brother Daniel Peterson joined the family in 1953, and Kenneth has been a fan of Danny ever since.
When Kenneth was a teenager, he began to join Carl and the Harpers at Grassy Flats in Southern Utah for the annual deer hunt. He always had fond memories of deer camp and his relatives in Utah, and he held onto those memories in part through a life-long interest in firearms, which he collected up to the end of his life.
Kenneth studied at Mt. San Antonio College, U.S.C., and BYU, where he finished a bachelor’s degree in political science and attended law school. Immediately after law school, he joined Carl at E.C. Construction, a general engineering contracting company that specializes in asphalt and concrete paving. The company’s official colors inspired Kenneth’s lasting patriotism to the color orange. His son John will now run E.C. Construction in his absence.
During his year of study at Mt. San Antonio College, Kenneth met Sandra Lynn Hartshorn, and the two were married by a judge on May 11, 1965, in a Catholic church on July 30, 1965, and in the Los Angeles LDS temple on February 26, 1970. They had four children: Sarah of San Antonio Texas, Matthew of Elwood Utah, Melissa who passed away at birth, and John of Whittier. For 37 years until he passed away, Kenneth carried in his wallet a photograph of Melissa.
Kenneth coached the little league team of his brother Danny, two soccer teams, and three little league teams of his sons. He was also highly involved with scouting. Among the first of his life’s accomplishments, he lists earning the rank of Eagle Scout, and joining the Order of the Arrow. Kenneth attended one National Jamboree in 1957 as a scout, and another in 1985 as an assistant scout master. He was a Cub Master for two years, received the Wood Badge Adult Training Award, and was designated a James E. West Fellow of the San Gabriel Valley Council. Kenneth was particularly supportive of his sons’ scouting, and would likely have disowned them had they not earned the rank of Eagle.
Kenneth enjoyed traveling. He took his wife and kids across North America with an R.V. trailer a number of times, and took the kids boating at Lake Mojave or Lake Powell every year from the 1970s through 2012. When his kids married and began families of their own, he continued to invite them, their wives, and his grandkids to Lake Mojave and other places, thus serving as the primary mover for family get-togethers for many years.
Church and community service were central to Kenneth’s life. He served as chairman of the Coolidge School Parents Advisory Committee, and on the South El Monte Business Council. In the church, he served in Young Men’s and Elder’s Quorum presidencies, on the stake high council, and in three bishoprics, including several years as Bishop of the San Marino Ward. Throughout his life, whenever help was needed, Kenneth established a reputation for responding and getting things done. This willingness to serve and to give of himself is what his wife and children consider to be his defining attribute.