Kenneth “Ken” Herbert Hansgen, 71, of Savannah, died Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013. Ken was born in Hackensack, Bergen County, New Jersey, on May 21, 1942. He was the only son of Herbert Ernest and Mildred Bertha Meyer Hansgen, both of whom preceded him in death.
He leaves behind his wife of 38 years, Sharon Smith-Hansgen; two step-daughters, Desirie Farncomb and Valerie Johnson; son-in-law Billy Johnson; granddaughters Mariah Berg and Maddie Jones and her husband Will Evans; great grandson, Bennett Evans; and great granddaughter, Alithea Adams-Handy.
He also is survived by his only sister, Christina Hansgen Zuelch, her husband Milton Zuelch, niece Sharon Zuelch Skelly and husband Michael Skelly, a nephew Steven Zuelch and wife Ginger Zuelch; two great nephews and three great nieces.
Ken grew up in Bogota, New Jersey, where he graduated from Bogota High School in 1960. He then entered Rutgers University, College of Agriculture, New Jersey; where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science in 1964. At Rutgers, he was inducted into the honorary agricultural fraternity, Alpha Zeta.
Following graduation, Ken served 3-1/2 years in the U.S. Army. He received basic and advanced training at Ft. Gordon, Augusta, GA; then transferred to Ft. Benning, GA, to attend Infantry Officer Candidate School. In May 1965, Ken graduated as a Second Lieutenant in the Medical Service Corps. He was then assigned to Headquarters Company of the 37th Medical Battalion at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio, TX. From November 1966 to December 1967, he served as Adjutant at a 400-bed evacuation hospital in Vietnam. He left active duty as a Captain at the end of 1967.
Ken then moved to Ft. Collins, CO, where he attended graduate school at the University of Colorado, earning a Master of Science degree in Zoology. Following graduation in 1969, he was hired by the State of California, Department of Health, in Sacramento, CA, where he worked for 27 years, first as a Vector Control Specialist; later as a Public Health Biologist in California’s Shellfish Sanitation Program.
In California, Ken was an active member of the Civil War Skirmish Association, the National Civil War Association, and the Sacramento Civil War Round Table. He developed a keen interest in the Battle of Shiloh when he learned his wife, Sharon, was descended from a farmer, Marion V.R. Shields, who lived near the battlefield and fought there as a Confederate soldier.
Shortly after retiring in 1996, Ken and Sharon moved to Savannah, TN, and opened their historic home on Church Street as the White Elephant B&B Inn. Soon Ken began offering guided tours of Shiloh, doing business as Shiloh Guide Services, conducting some 1,000 tours during the past 17 years. Ken also was a part-time volunteer at Shiloh National Military Park (NMP), member of the Company of Military Historians, and served on the executive boards of the Friends of Shiloh NMP and the Tennessee River Museum. He also served as secretary and president of the Hardin County Historical Society and was an active member of the North-South Skirmish Association and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Post 4606, in Savannah.
Ken closed his guide service business at the end of 2012, due to failing health as a result of Parkinson’s Disease, and the B&B was sold in 2013. A memorial service will be held at Shiloh NMP on Sun., April 6, 2014, the actual day the Battle of Shiloh began. Donations may be made to the Wounded Warrior Program or Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 4606, Savannah.