Kenneth Conrow, 86, died March 18, at Leonardville Nursing Home, from complications of Alzheimer's Disease.

Ken was born to Maurice and Frances Conrow in Philadelphia, and lived his early life in Riverton, in Southern New Jersey, as a member of a large Quaker farming community.

Ken was proud of his Quaker heritage, and his attendance at Quaker schools: Westfield, Moorestown Friends, and Swarthmore College, from which he graduated with Honors in 1954. In 1957 He earned a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana, where he made his acquaintance with the “Illiac” and computer science. After four years at UCLA, he joined Kansas State Chemistry Department in 1961. Although he was an accomplished chemist with many publications, he became more interested in computer science and joined the new Kansas State Department of Computer Science in 1971. He developed several computer programs, the most famous of which was “Neater2” with Ron Smith, a reformatting program which was leased through the KSU Research Foundation. Ken moved full time to Computer Services in 1974, then called “Computing and Telecommunication Activities.” At the time of his retirement in 1998 he was Interim Head of Computer and Network Services at K-State.

Ken was a member and repeated Commodore of the Blue Valley Yacht Club, and enjoyed many Sundays and other times sailing and also ice skating on Tuttle Creek Reservoir. He also enjoyed long bike rides and rode his bicycle to work. He was an avid stamp collector from a young age and acquired an extensive collection. After retirement he spent a lot of time on what he called “mathematical recreation”, exploring sequences of prime numbers and pursuing a theory of proving the Collatz Conjecture, corresponding with other enthusiasts.

He and his wife, “Marka,” met at Swarthmore College, were married in 1955 in a Quaker ceremony, and were members of the Manhattan Friends (Quaker) Meeting. They regularly attended the week-long annual Quaker conferences in different parts of the country, which combined workshops on various topics with quiet meetings and excursions to historical sites.

They enjoyed their home and neighbors on Grandview Terrace, where they lived for 47 years.

They also had memorable trips to London and Wales, Alaska, a sailing adventure in Maine, a Danube River tour, and many family trips.

Ken is survived by his sister, Mary Coelho, of Boston, his wife, Margaret, daughters Janet Palo-Jackson (Gerry, deceased, Steve), Ann Simmons (Michael, deceased), Joyce Conrow (Rob Long), and eight grandchildren, Caitlin, David, Nathan Palo; Jennifer, Alec, Rhett Long; Matthew and Helen Simmons, as well as nephews and nieces. Ken and Margaret also fostered Helen as a daughter, as she lived with them for most of her life. Ken was preceded in death by his parents and a younger brother, David, who died as a young child.

Ken will be put to his final rest in a green burial at Heartland Prairie Cemetery in Salina.

A memorial service celebrating his life will be announced later for the spring or summer.

Memorial contributions may be made to Leonardville Nursing Home, P.O. Box 148, Leonardville, KS, 66449; Meadowlark Hospice at 709 Liberty St., Clay Center, Kansas, 67432; The Alzheimer's Disease Association; or to KSU Foundation, 1800 Kimball Ave., Ste 200, Manhattan, KS, 66502, for a memorial for Kenneth Conrow to benefit the Chemistry Department: please indicate Fund M47252, or go online to

The Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home, 1616 Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan, Kansas 66502, is assisting the family with the funeral arrangements.

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