Kenneth William Appelhans, a "staunch fighter for the rights of all workers", died June 29 2011, at the age of 75.
Born on February 25, 1936, to William Kenneth Appelhans and Elizabeth (Seitz) Appelhans in Chicago, he was the oldest of six children including Dorothy, Donna, Bill, Ed, and Liz.
Ken spent his entire life fighting for the rights of poor and working people. He believed that racism and exploitation of others is the root of all evil. He served as a proud United Steelworkers Union member at Pullman Standard in Chicago where he helped build the last of the Pullman Amtrak cars that still run on the nation's tracks today. He was one of the leaders in the strike to prevent the plant closure and appeared in the 1983 documentary, "The Last Pullman Car", that tells the story of that struggle.
Ken took pride in his work and strove for a high level of craftsmanship in whatever he did. His work ethic flatly rejected any contradiction between being the best worker one can be and a fighter for workers rights and justice on the job.
He retired from Chicago's LaRabida Children's Hospital in 2001 after 14 years as a maintenance and carpenter worker. He was a leader of the Communist Party clubs at both Pullman and LaRabida. On and off the job, he led by example.
Ken Appelhans was a "working-class intellectual who enjoyed learning science, art and music. From astrophysics to classical guitar to film, Ken had an insatiable thirst for knowledge and keen insights". He was also a savvy sail-boater and captained a boat on Lake Michigan, along with his brother Bill Appelhans and close friends Bill Mackovich, Doug "Dutch" Wagner and Scott Marshall, until the sport got "too expensive and out of reach for working-class people".
Ken Appelhans was married for 19 years, to Alice Bush of Gary, Ind., an organizer for the Service Employees International Union. "We shared the same political view and were true comrades in the struggle. Our politics are what brought us together and kept us united," she said. Their relationship grew out of their hard fought but unsuccessful effort to bring a union to LaRabida Children's Hospital.
"Nobody at the time knew the silver lining in that cloud would shine as bright and beautiful as the next 19 years of their time together," said Ken's brother, Bill.
An extremely proud father of two sons and one stepson, Steve, Mike (first wife Linda Appelhans ) and Shane Bush. Steve Appelhans is a computer architect, filmmaker and father who lives in Minnesota, Mike Appelhans, living in Gary, is a physics and math teacher and holds a degree in civil engineering graduating Summa Cum Laude from Purdue University, and Dr. Shane Bush is a resident physician at Resurrection Hospital in Chicago.
Ken was preceded in death by his mother, father, sister Dorothy and brother Ed. Besides his wife, sons and grandchildren, Ken is survived by his beloved sisters Liz (Andy), Donna, and brother Bill Appelhans (Carolyn Black ), nieces Kirsten (Bill), Julia, Roz (Liz), Lisa (Donna), and nephews Danny (Donna), Kennan, Martin (Ed) and numerous friends, buddies, union brothers and sisters and neighbors.
Communist Party's May Day Salute
In 1995 the Communist Party USA newspaper People's Weekly World, published a "May Day salute" to the "heroes in the class war zone". More than 200 unionists endorsed the call, mostly known affiliates, or members of the Communist Party.
Ken Applehans, Chicago, was one of those listed.
1999 May Day greetings
Endorsed Communist Party Call
On March 30 2002 the Communist Party USA paper People's World called for a national holiday in honor of late Farm Workers Union leader Cesar Chavez. The article was followed by a long list of endorsersincluding Kenneth Appelhans, Almost all endorsers were confirmed members of the Communist Party USA.
- PW, Kenneth Appelhans, fighter for working people, dies, Special to the World July 6 2011
- People's Weekly World May 6 1995 p 2
- Special May Day 1999 Supplement of the People's Weekly World