Ken Chapin

Ken Chapin passed unexpectedly at his home in Fond du Lac, WI, on Thursday, February 23rd, 2023 at the age of 93. He was in good health, witty and fun to be with, and still golfed this past fall. Born Kenneth Earl Chapin on January 26th, 1930, he spent his younger life in Fond du Lac, graduating from Fondy High School and marrying the love of his life, Betty Toshner in 1952. Ken and Betty joined lifelong friend and legendary pianist Jess Ellison in the 50’s to form the Soft Tones, a modern Jazz Trio that played extensively throughout the state, Betty on vocals and Ken on the drums.

In the late 60’s, broadcasting called Ken, and after earning a degree, he began a career in radio as a host, and later in the 60’s through the late 90’s as a Television Weatherman at WSAU-TV, Wausau WI, and WDIO-TV in Duluth MN. Ken was highly rated and was involved in a number of charities, including serving as the longtime local host of the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon in both Wausau and Duluth. All throughout this part of his career, Ken continued performing weekends with various musical groups and expanding his extensive collection of Frank Sinatra music, videos, and books. Upon retirement at the millennium, Ken and Betty spent the winters in South Padre Island, Texas, Ken playing golf and the pair performing with various bands. Ken was a golf addict and earned the nickname “Chip”. A very happy time of their lives. In addition to music, broadcasting, and golf, Ken was a devout Catholic, and served the church as a popular lector at Holy Family Church in Fond du Lac, right up to his passing. Ken is preceded in death by his loving wife Betty, his parents, Earl and Mary Chapin, his sister, Diane, brother, David Chapin, and grandson, Blair Chapin. Ken is survived by his sons, Scott (Susan) Chapin, of Ft Lauderdale, FL, Jim (Becky) Chapin, of Waco, TX, brother, Thomas Chapin, of Fond du Lac, sister, Sharon Franzen, of Fond du Lac. Grandchildren, Brent (Patty), of Denver, Co, Elizabeth (Christopher), of Lexington, KY, and Jayme Chapin, of Waco, TX. Great grandchildren, Brantley, Weston, Sienna, and Julian. And many, many “Uncle Kenny” nieces and nephews including Chapins, Toshners, Mienkes, Schneiders, Franzens, and Weiners. Special thanks to Judy and Janet from Home Instead, and a very special thanks to Ken’s dear friend Gail Riederer for their loving care and for putting up with his corny jokes.

A memorial service and Mass will be held in the spring. In lieu of flowers and donations, the family asks that in Ken’s name you “do a good deed for someone in need”.