Word has been received of the death of Ken Balmer, an active member of Penn Valley Church, Telford, Pa. Until recent years, he and his wife, Ruth, were a fixture at the national conference of the Charis Fellowship (Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches). They were well respected and generous supporters of a number of ministries within the Fellowship. His obituary appears below.
Z. Kenneth (Ken) Balmer, 89, beloved husband of Ruth (Fretz) Balmer of Telford, Pa., went home to be with our Lord and Savior on January 9, 2021; family was at his side. Born on July 7, 1931, in Lancaster County, he was the son of the late Abram and Hilda (Zug) Balmer. He grew up on the family dairy farm in Schaefferstown, Pa., and graduated from Heidelberg High School in 1949.
A committed Christian and hardworking farm boy, he served at the Norristown State Hospital in the 1W service. It was here that he met his sweetheart, Ruthie, who was there for nurses training. Ken and Ruth were married on September 15, 1956. Four months later, they founded Penn Valley Gas, which continues his legacy of faithful service today.
In 1961, Ken and Ruth purchased a farm in Telford, Pa., which provided the room necessary for the business to grow and an ideal home to raise their six children. The company grew steadily through Ken’s desire to build trusted relationships with employees, customers, and business associates, and to provide reliable service at a fair price. Following heart surgery in 1989, Ken stepped back from leading the company. Nonetheless, God gave him 31 more years to give counsel in running the business, help out as needed, and share his heart with new employees. He taught those around him to work hard together, be generous, and lead with humility. Ken would often say, “I prayed for a wife and God threw in the gas business!” From his perspective, Penn Valley Gas was “the Lord’s business” so he generously used its proceeds to bless others.
As a member of Penn Valley Church in Telford, Pa., for more than 50 years, he built relationships across the Grace Brethren Fellowship and he was passionate about seeing others come to faith in Christ. Ken loved the Bible and memorizing Scripture so he could recall it at any moment. He desired to honor God with his life, working with integrity and making good decisions, but he knew he was saved by grace, not by works. No matter how busy his day, if a missionary he supported stopped by his farm, he would take time to enjoy a meal with them and hear how the Lord was at work through their ministry. Ken and Ruth also enjoyed visiting the people and faith-based projects they supported in Philadelphia, Europe, Africa, and South America. He was especially passionate about Water for Good, a non-profit that provides fresh water for people in the Central African Republic.
Always a farmer at heart, Ken could often be found in the field on one of his Oliver tractors. As a boy he loved trucks and dreamed of owning a trucking company, which the Lord gave him with Penn Valley Gas. He also enjoyed restoring cars connected to his past and especially loved his “courting car” from when he was dating Ruth.
In addition to his wife of 64 years, Ken is survived by son Daniel Balmer, daughter Dona Corcoran and husband Michael, daughter Dorene Balmer and husband River Dunavin, son Dale Balmer and wife Julie, son Dwane Balmer and wife Jennifer, daughter Darla Bergey and husband Mark; 15 grandchildren: Joshua, Jessica, Alisha, Jana, Jesse, Joah, Jeriah, Karli, Bailey, Ali, Macy, Lincoln, Elle, Lane, and Tess; and 12 great-grandchildren. Ken is also survived by his two brothers: Vernon and wife Ruth Ann, and Everett and wife Laura. Ken was welcomed to heaven by his daughter-in-law Christine (Kolb) Balmer.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Ken Balmer’s name to Encompass World Partners, PO Box 3298, Monument, CO 80132. This organization was close to Ken’s heart because of how they make Jesus known around the world in word and deed.
Burial and service are private. You are welcome to attend the service virtually by watching the livestream on Saturday, January 23 at 2pm EST at pennvalleychurch.org/livestream. The family plans to have an outdoor celebration of Ken’s legacy in the summer.
Arrangements are by Williams-Bergey-Koffel Funeral Home, 667 Harleysville Pike, Telford, Pa.