Kenneth W. Cantzler, 73, of Elkhart, passed away early Wednesday morning in the emergency room at Elkhart General Hospital. Ken was born on April 26, 1948, in Chicago to the late Richard and Margaret (Schultz) Cantzler.
He is survived by four sons, Chris (Julia) Cantzler of San Diego, CA; Sean (Nicole) Cantzler of Elkhart; Ryan (Jill) Cantzler of Worthington, OH; and Kevin (Lindsay) Cantzler of Westerville, OH; brothers, Rick (Linda) Cantzler of Mansfield, OH and Garry (Jean) Cantzler of El Dorado Hills, CA. Also surviving are nine grandchildren, his former wife, Carol Cantzler of Worthington, OH and a companion, Kris Chumas of Elkhart. Ken was preceded in death by a granddaughter, Kristen Cantzler.
Ken grew up in Park Forest, Ill. He graduated in 1970 from the University of Illinois and attended Penn State for graduate school. He moved to Elkhart in 1973 and the following year became the youngest Park Superintendent in the State. Complications from a bone marrow transplant forced him to retire in 2004. During his tenure leading the Elkhart Parks Department, Ken was an integral part of starting the Rhapsody in Green Festival and opening the Tolson Youth Center. In 2001, he received the Sagamore of the Wabash award from Governor O’Bannon.
In 1975, Ken was the first husband allowed in the delivery room at Elkhart General Hospital for the birth of his son, Sean.
After surviving cancer, Ken enjoyed his retirement by spending time with his grandchildren, teaching them to garden, fish, kayak and ride bikes. He loved to explore national and regional parks and enjoyed a lifetime of learning about nature and history. He also volunteered at The Lerner Theater and Wellfield Botanic Gardens.
A celebration of life will take place at a later date. Billings Funeral Home is assisting the family.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the National Park Foundation,1500 K Street NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20005, Elkhart Parks & Recreation Department, 1320 Benham Avenue, Elkhart, IN 46516 or Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Indiana, 435 Limestone Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202.
Condolences may be made online at www.billingsfuneralhome.com
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Kenneth W. Cantzler, please visit our floral store.
National Park Foundation
1500 K Street NW, Suite 700, Washington DC 20005
Elkhart Parks & Recreation Department
1320 Benham Avenue, Elkhart IN 46516
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Indiana
435 Limestone Street, Indianapolis IN 46202