Ken Casford

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Kenneth R. Casford, Jr.

May 28, 1927 – April 10, 2017

Ken Casford, circa 2017

Kenneth "Ken" R. Casford, Jr., 89, passed away peacefully in La Mirada, CA on April 10, 2017. Born on May 28, 1927 in Oklahoma City, OK, Ken was born to his parents Kenneth R. Casford, Sr. & Edith P. (Miller) Casford. In 1948, Ken married the love of his life, Norma Jean Phillips of Manhattan, KS. Together they had two children, Martha & Richard. He influenced many lives, and he will be greatly missed by his family and community.

Growing up, Ken attended schools in Syracuse, NY, Dallas, TX and Kansas City, MO. After graduating high school, he was employed as a secretary to the General Manager of the Kansas City Terminal Railroad. In 1945, he was drafted into the Army Air Corp and was stationed in Natal, Brazil during World War II. He served as a Staff Sergeant in base operations command in Brazil.

Upon returning home from the war, Ken enrolled at the University of Southern California where he graduated with a degree in Transportation. He was subsequently employed by the Santa Fe Railroad in Los Angeles. He soon became the Managing Editor for GO Magazine - Transport Times of the West, a publication of the California Trucking Association in Los Angeles, CA. In 1952, Ken's lifelong interest in railroads prompted him to start a mail-order hobby shop called Boxcar Ken which provided trains and parts for ¼" scale railroad hobbyists around the world. Ken took his passion for the railroad to the next level when he became involved with the Riverside Live Steamers, operating a miniature steam-powered railroad in Hunter Hobby Park in Riverside. He was a member of the Riverside Live Steamers for 47 years and a past president.

In 1951, Ken and Norma moved to Whittier. After living in Whittier for over a decade, Ken and Norma founded Whittier Mailing Service in 1964. Whittier Mailing Service was a full-service commercial mailing firm with clients all throughout the western states. Ken retired in 1998 from the daily operations, but remained Chairman of the Board until his death.

Ken was deeply committed to his community. He was a proud member of the Whittier Host Lions Club for 53 years and a past president. He was the only Whittier Host Lion, in the club's 95 year history, to ever be awarded a Life Membership – earning notoriety from the Lions International Board of Directors for his outstanding dedication and service to the club in Whittier. Ken also served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for several years at the Whittier First United Methodist Church where he and Norma have been members for 66 years. Ken leaves a remarkable legacy, which is due to his deep sense of commitment to the people in his life (his family and community) and his integrity for always doing what was right.

Ken is survived by his wife of 68 years, Norma; his daughter Martha L. Tarter, Portland, OR; his son Richard A. Casford, Whittier, CA; seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

A public viewing will be held from 7:00pm-8:30pm on Tuesday, April 18 at White Emerson Mortuary, 13304 E. Philadelphia St., Whittier. A memorial service in Ken's honor will be held on Wednesday, April 19 at 1:30pm at Whittier First United Methodist Church, 13222 Bailey, Whittier. In lieu of flowers, please consider honoring Ken's life with donations to the PIH Health Foundation OR the Whittier Host Lions Club Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Published in Whittier Daily News on Apr. 15, 2017

Boxcar Ken

Ken Shattock wrote, 12 April 2017:

In the late 1940's/early 1950's there was a gentleman in Southern California who produced O-scale freight and passenger car kits for the model railroad hobbyist. He utilized an address at or near the old PE building in downtown L.A. known as 'Metropolitan Station' as I recall. His kits were absolutely beautiful and widely known. The guy called himself "Boxcar Ken" !! And BC kits were grabbed up by modelers every chance they could. They were very popular.
Around 10 years ago or so, two gentlemen made the trip from Fresno to Southern California to acquire the BC models (Box Car Ken) presses and tooling from the widow of Bill Cotton. Bill was the tool and die maker behind the BC kits, and he certainly was a genius in his trade. They managed to find and identify all but a few of the items needed to perpetuate the models, but one critical component was never located, that being the indexing jigs needed to properly space window and door openings in the car sides. One "feature" of all of the BC kits was the oversized truck cut-outs. Apparently, this compromise was made to allow the kits to be built and operated by the 3-rail crowd. They had a new punch and die made to fit Bill's punch "shoe" and now have the ability to punch proper truck cutouts for the car sides. All of this stuff is "old school", but the results can be quite nice.
So why do I tell you guys all this O-scale stuff in a Live Steam forum on Chaski ??
Well, to continue-- At Christmas time, in 1973, my new wife Suzie and I were house guests of the late Dick Bagley. Dick took us all over to show us the Live Steam scene in Southern California. As part of this, I was the keynote speaker at the Annual Banquet of the Los Angeles Live Steamers. It was during my talk to the LALS members during dinner, that I spotted my old friend Gary Kubicek in the middle of the crowd.
Dick Bagley took us to the Riverside Live Steamers, where he had Suzie operate the "Hunter" 4-8-4 locomotive. She did very well and I captured her adventure on motion picture film. Dick then said he had someone "special" for us to meet as Dick knew I was also an avid O-scale enthusiast. He said "Ken, I'd like you to meet BOXCAR KEN" !! WOW-- it was really HIM. In the flesh. The renowned BOXCAR KEN!!! (grin)
So, as this tale concludes, who was that 'masked man' who was responsible for the famous BC Car Kits ?? Simple... oldtime RLS member "KEN CASFORD" ...
And now you know the rest of this historic tale !! Cheers.
SO-- As we come to the close of my story, I send my condolences to his family: his wife, his son, his grandson. You were so very lucky to know "Boxcar Ken" .....
Ken Shattock

1947 Railfan

Ken Casford, center, 1947

Wes Chiles wrote on

The date is April 27, 1947 and what we have here are 4 rail fans/modelers and 1 budding rail fan/modeler. From left to right are Bill Gibson Sr., Oliver Gibson, Ken Casford, Art Gibson Jr. and Wes Krambeck. Of these 5 men only one is still with us today. Art wanted me to post this picture of the group standing in front of UP 4607 here in Topeka, KS. He thought that most folks who were friends with Ken would enjoy seeing him as a young man near his old hometown of Kansas City. The occasion for the picture was when Ken and Wes Krambeck came over to Topeka for some rail fanning. Art said that the thing that stands out in his memory is that when Ken took a picture of a locomotive he used a tripod and took a whole roll of 8 shots of the same one. One for himself and 7 to trade. Art said that to a 10 year old with little or no money that this had his attention. 8 shots was a month or better of film for Art.


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