All people die but few people live with Ken Bird’s spiritual enthusiasm, unyielding intellectual curiosity, and rock-solid love for family and faith.
The star athlete — seemingly chiseled from a sunny California storybook — devoted husband and father of seven sons was called home on January 18th 2024 after a long fight with an incurable cancer.
The grandson and namesake of a prominent minister, Ken was nicknamed “Rev” (i.e. Reverend) for always leading his teammates in prayer and was a deeply spiritual man, reading and quoting scripture with his love Heather, mother, sisters and sons, and applying meaning across their collective lives.
He had charm without trying, charisma without knowing and people were drawn to him. Ken will forever remain a rock for his boys, who despite being shaken, now live a legacy of true integrity.
Born in Gridley, California on May 16th 1962, Kenny, as he was known the first half of his life, was a Peer Counselor and voted “Most Friendly” his senior year in high school. A gifted, multi-sport athlete, he was named MVP in football and basketball and also lettered in baseball.
Kenny was recruited to play football at College of the Siskiyous in Weed, California, where he was voted Homecoming King.
Later, he leveraged those skills to coach his kids in youth sports. You’d regularly spot him, not only with his own boys, but also with the neighborhood kids playing a game of catch in the yard, gently coaching technique between throws.
In 1983 he married Kim Evers and together they raised Tyler, Seth and Trey. West coast natives and residents still, the boys made frequent visits to see their father in Utah — and vice versa — including taking a cherished trip to one of Ken’s favorite places this past year. Together they strengthened their unbreakable bonds under the starlit skies of the Redwoods and throughout the recent years during Ken’s courageous battle with cancer.
His zest for living life to the fullest made Ken a perfect paradox: sturdy, conservative, dependable, while also adventurous, boyish and the life of the party. Ken turned every day tasks into exciting competitions, boring afternoons into fun games, and quiet tunes into top-of-your-lung singalongs - whether singing karaoke with his sisters with their mom clapping along or asking each of his boys via song lyrics “don’t you know that you are are a shooting star,” he inspired people, always with a twinkle in the eye.
A natural leader, Ken took advantage of business travel time with books, podcasts, documentaries, and anything to enrich his lifelong love of learning. He parlayed his sales acumen into an award-winning career in corporate retail management — most notably with Toys R Us and Linens N Things — which led him to Heather, his life’s true love.
Throughout their international courtship, the two would crisscross from Las Vegas, Seattle, Toronto, New York, Calgary and Southern California building priceless memories before landing in an idyllic slice of Farmington known as Farm Circle. Ken proposed to Heather, beneath a cathedral of shooting stars, the New Year’s Eve fireworks, during a Tempe, Arizona trip with friends to see the Utah Utes dominate the 2005 Fiesta Bowl. They were married later that year, on July 30th, in Salt Lake City.
They would go on to have four boys: Ricky, twins Nolan and Benny, and Zeke.
Ken cherished cheering the boys from the sidelines, always their mentor for athletics, spiritual growth, and doing the right thing, especially when hard. They vacationed with extended family along the California coastline, traveled together often and checked off bucket list items like skydiving in San Diego and taking the younger boys to see a different kind of star, their NFL idols, at their first ever pro football game.
The lifelong athlete, whose all-time favorite number was seven, always felt blessed to have seven sons. Perhaps a nod from heaven.
Asked to describe their father in one word, his boys didn’t hesitate:
Tyler – Wise
Seth – God-Fearing
Trey – Unconditional
Ricky – Stalwart
Nolan – Strong
Benny – Commendable
As for Zeke, or lucky No. 7, his expression was always the infectious smile worn on the floor while playing with Ken during “daddy time.”
An insatiable student of history, Ken was equally drawn to the imagination of new ideas. His conversations were never idle, questions never shallow. Ken challenged you to think, but always with a humility not to judge.
Analytical and ever thirsting for knowledge, Ken relished friendly debates about politics, economics, and the cultural touchstones of the day. Lovingly known as a “trouble-causer” among friends, he would stir the pot then instantly disarm the room with that catbird-seat smile, often accompanied by “I was just funnin.’” He was genuine with his heartfelt questions to learn about other’s interests and took pride in learning more for future conversations.
He lived and loved deeply and illuminated our lives in profound ways. As we navigate the difficult days ahead, may we find strength knowing that Kenny is now with his little brother, Ricky, who his heart has been missing since the age of four, that our separation is temporary, and that one day, we will rejoice together in the presence of our Lord. Until then, let us look for the shooting stars as a reminder of Kenny’s bright and beautiful life.
Ken is survived by his wife Heather; sons Tyler, Seth (Kristin), Trey (Ben), Ricky, Nolan, Benny and Zeke; grandchildren, Cylis and Bella; mother DeEtta Jo Bird; father Robert Bird (Gayle); sisters Gayla Bird McMains (Chris) and Vicky Bird Tade (Johnny); beloved in-laws and many nieces and nephews.
Ken was preceded in death by his brother Patrick “Ricky” Bird, and his grandparents Rev. Kenneth Bird, Wynema Bird, Flossie Elerick and Lester Stevens.
A Memorial Service/Celebration of Ken’s Life will be held on Saturday, January, 27th at 11:00 am at:
The Bridge Community Church
1284 W 75 N, Centerville, UT 84014
The memorial service will be live streamed through The Bridge Community Church's website at the following link: https://thebridgeutah.org/watch-live . The video will be active at the time of the service
All are invited to a luncheon immediately following the services at:
La Cappella at Canterbury
197 East 500 South
Bountiful, UT 84010
A Visitation will be held Friday evening, January 26th from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at:
1941 N Main Street, Farmington, UT 84025
As an expression of sympathy and support for the family, memorial contributions may be made to https://www.gofundme.com/f/share-love-to-the-birds
or donated to Saint Olaf or Judge Memorial Catholic Schools, where Ken and Heather’s boys have been loved and supported for many years.