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Townsend, Kenneth “Ken”

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Kenneth John Townsend; (Ken or Kenny as he was known by his family and friends) passed away peacefully with his children by his side, on Wednesday, April 27th, 2022 after a swift but valiant battle with cancer. He was 65 years old.

Born on December 18th, 1956 in Sonora, CA, Ken spent his childhood exploring Sonora Pass and Kennedy Meadows, playing baseball and getting into trouble with his two younger brothers. He attended Sonora High School, where he had an illustrious baseball career. In 1975, he was selected in the seventh round by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He went on to pitch with the franchise for 4 years.

When his professional baseball career came to an end, Ken worked a series of jobs eventually going to work as a sworn officer for the California Department of Corrections. After a successful career at CDCR, Ken retired in 2012 after 20 years of service. Never one to be able to sit still for long, his “retirement” was short lived. He went back to work for his alma mater, and later Black Oak Casino. His work ethic, ability to fix just about anything, infectious laugh, and incredible strength were of legend, and the people he worked with absolutely loved and admired him.

Throughout his life, Ken’s deeply rooted passion for baseball remained. He began playing recreational softball and traded the pitching mound for the outfield where he had a nasty habit of throwing guys out at home all the way from the outfield fence. As a youth baseball coach, Ken worked hard to share his love for the game with local youth, passing on his knowledge to his sons and the kids he coached along the way. In 2018, he was inducted into the Sonora High School Hall of Fame.

Ken was an avid hunter, and enjoyed spending time with his family hunting and fishing in the Sierra Nevadas, Colorado Rockies, and western U.S. When not hunting, he was happiest spending time with his kids and grandkids, the loves of his life. If you knew Ken (or “Punkin” as he was known by his grandchildren), you knew the fierce love and immense pride he had for them. “Punkin” was their hero. From teaching them how to play ball, to sleepovers with corndogs and ice cream, to taking them fishing on the ditch, to wrapping them in his giant hugs, he was an ever-present fixture in their lives, making regular trips to build forts, and to watch sports games. No matter the distance, he showed up when it mattered, and gave everything he had to those that he loved. They brought him so much joy and happiness.

Ken is survived by his loving children, Tiffany (Ryan) Shillito, Josh (Karen) Townsend, Jordan Townsend, and Devin (Delaney) Townsend; his grandchildren, Kaeden, Emerson, Avery, Brody, Nolan, and Camden; his brothers Kevin (Tarie) Townsend, and Tim (Rachel) Townsend; his cousin David (Linda) Townsend; and numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews.

He is preceded in death by his mother and father, Billie and Robert Townsend.

Ken’s Celebration of Life will be held at the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Posse Grounds in Jamestown, California, on Saturday, June 11th from 11:00-2:00pm. Dodger Blue attire is requested. GO DODGERS!

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Kenny Townsend Memorial Fundraiser at

  • Date of Death: 04/27/2022
  • Age: 65
  • Residence: Sonora, CA