Dr. Kenneth Lee Lay
July 7, 2006
Ken Lay was born April 15, 1942, in Tyrone, Mo., to loving parents – Omer and Ruth Lay. Ken spent 64 years doing God’s work helping others with great compassion. We know that Ruth and Omer have embraced their precious son once again.Ken’s life exemplified Galatians 5:22: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.Despite his meager upbringing, Ken was always generous with his time, money, love, talents and leadership. To know Ken was to love him. Many benefited from Ken’s generosity – Anderson Ranch, Aspen Camp School for the Deaf, Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, Aspen Foundation, Aspen Institute, Aspen Music Festival and School, Aspen Valley Community Foundation, and many others. Ken’s door was always open, whether it was to help with a child’s college funds, to help a former Enron employee pay their mortgage; to help young entrepreneurs make dreams a reality, or to give a second chance when he believed in a person. Ken could not say no to anyone needing help. When asked why he always looked for the best in everyone, Ken would reply that it was much better than the alternative.Ken’s love of Linda was unsurpassed – they were to celebrate their 24th anniversary on July 10 – they were truly best friends, soul mates and partners. They were always holding hands and demonstrating their incredible adoration for each other. Linda considers herself the luckiest woman in the world to have had those precious years with Ken.He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge. Proverbs 14:26
Ken leaves behind five children, Robyn, Mark, David, Elizabeth and Beau, who all love him very much. He was their role model for life, business and Christian faith. They are blessed with memories of a father who respected each of them for their uniqueness and took the time to foster in them the desire to achieve their best. They enjoyed lively dinner conversations, festive holidays and their quiet times with him. Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children. Proverbs 17:6Twelve grandchildren, Nicholas, Hannah, Hailey, Sasha, Zach, Pate, Alex, Gage, Preston, Katie, Lucas and Tessa, remember their beloved “Papi/Papia” (depending on who you ask) who was never afraid to be silly to entertain one of his treasured grandchildren. He loved teaching them how to whistle, cluck, ride ponies, build snowmen in Colorado, and he spent precious time with them, watching college football and attending many recitals.Ken was loved and admired by his sisters, Bonnie and Sharon. They share memories of family, Ruth’s fried chicken and lots of conversation and humor. While the Lay family did not have much money, they were always close and supportive of each other. He was the Rock of Gibraltar for his parents and his sisters.Ken’s first wife, Judie, continued to love and support Ken through the greatest challenges of his life and never questioned his integrity.
Ken’s faith supported him throughout his life and gave him the confidence to believe in people. He trusted God that he had a plan, even if it was never perfectly clear.While Ken was the son of parents who did not have the opportunity to go to college, Ken graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1964 from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and a master’s in economics in 1965. Ken was a member of and served as president of Beta Theta Pi. Ken completed his formal education at the University of Houston, where he obtained a Ph.D. in economics in 1970.Ken led a long and distinguished career in the public and private sector. Ken worked with Exxon from 1965-1968. In 1968, Ken enlisted in the U.S. Naval Officer Candidate School, where, from 1968 to 1971 he served as an ensign; lieutenant junior grade; lieutenant; special assistant to the Navy comptroller and financial analyst; Office of Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Department of the Navy, at the Pentagon. He received the Navy Commendation Medal and National Defense Service Medal.Ken’s legacy as a leader in energy regulation was rooted in his service with the Federal Power Commission from 1971 to 1972 where he served as a technical assistant to the commissioner and vice chairman of the Federal Power Commission. Ken left the FPC to serve as the energy deputy under secretary for the United States Department of Interior.In 1974, Ken left the public sector in Washington, D.C., to begin his career in the natural gas industry. Ken joined Florida Gas Co. as vice president of corporate development, later holding the office of senior vice president of the transmission company and president of its successor company, Continental Resources Co.
In 1981, Ken joined Transco Energy Co. in Houston, where he held the positions of president, chief operating officer and director. In 1984, he accepted the position as chairman and CEO of Houston Natural Gas Co., which merged with InterNorth in 1985, and which would later be renamed Enron Corp.Ken loved Enron and saw the company as one of limitless possibilities. He often talked of the incredible talent at Enron and believed Enron employees were unsurpassed in any industry. Ken believed the real value of Enron was in its people. From the most junior employee to his top executives, Ken treated all with the same dignity and respect they deserved as children of God. Employees often remarked on how he recalled their names, family and other personal details they shared with him.I, the Lord, search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve. Jeremiah 12:10 For those who knew and loved Ken, we take comfort in the knowledge that he is in the loving presence of the one true judge.Celebrations of Ken’s life for family and friends will take place at the Aspen Chapel in Aspen at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 9, 2006, and also on Wednesday, July 12, 2006, at 11 a.m. at First United Methodist Church-Downtown in Houston.In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made on Ken’s behalf to First United Methodist Church, HoustonLifeline Ministries for the Poor, United Way of Texas Gulf Coast, YMCA of Greater Houston, Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, Aspen Camp School for the Deaf, or the church or synagogue of your choice.