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Kenneth L. ‘Pepper’ Saunders

Published: Monday, Jan. 6, 2014 11:23 a.m. CST • Updated: Monday, Jan. 6, 2014 12:09 p.m. CST

Kenneth L. “Pepper” Saunders Sr., 83, of Grinnell passed away Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, at Grinnell Regional Medical Center.

Visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 8, at the Smith Funeral Home in Grinnell with the family present from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to Grinnell Regional Medical Center or Grinnell Regional Hospice.

Pepper, the middle child of Raymond and Leone Taylor Saunders, was born Feb. 24, 1930, at their home at 1027 Elm Street in Grinnell, Iowa.

Pepper started work at the early age of 9, and his first job was delivering the Des Moines Tribune and the Des Moines Sunday Register. At age 11, Pepper entered the trade of shoe shining and repair. In 1943, Pepper began a four-year stint as a short-order cook, waiter and custodian for the White Spot Café. Pepper graduated from Grinnell High School with the class of 1947. From 1947 to 1949, Pepper was employed at the Shell One-Stop service station. In 1949, Pepper leased the lube and wash rooms from his employer and worked extra hours to pay for rent and inventory until his induction into the United States Army on Oct. 18, 1951. Pepper was stationed in Fort Knox, Ky., until being deployed for South Korea. While in South Korea, he was a supply sergeant for the 89th Tank Battalion which consisted of processing and delivering supplies for five tank companies. He was discharged from the United States Army as a master sergeant on July 5, 1953.

In August 1953, Pepper purchased the inventory and leased the little DX gas and service station on the Highway 6 curves across from Grinnell College (current site of the First Presbyterian Church). On Aug. 31, 1956, he opened the new DX gas and service station at Sixth Avenue and West Street. In addition to the DX station, Pepper owned and operated the DX tank wagon service from 1964 to 1969. Pepper sold the DX station and retired from that business after 32 years in March of 1985. Pepper especially enjoyed his final career of 24 years as an employee of Smith Funeral Home from 1986 to 2009.

Pepper was an avid golfer and ping pong player, enjoyed being with his family and the family Norwegian Elkhounds.

Pepper wed Phyllis Jean Paulson on Dec. 31, 1951, and they were happily married just over 62 years. To this union were born two children, Kenneth L. II (Ken) and Diane Mae.

Survivors include his wife, Phyllis of Grinnell; his son, Ken (Miriam) Saunders II of Grinnell, and his daughter, Diane (her partner, Jerry Brandt) Saunders of Foley, Ala.; one brother, Richard (Molly) Saunders of Grinnell; one sister, Kay (Paul) Eker of Marshalltown; one sister-in-law, Dee Saunders of Newton; as well as many nieces, nephews and cousins.

He was preceded in death by his parents; one sister, Addie, and her spouse Gerald Sampson; and three brothers, Charles and his spouse, Delores Saunders, Raymond and his spouse, Jean Saunders, and Dale Saunders.

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