Cover photo for Ken Working's Obituary
1943 Ken 2023

Ken Working

October 2, 1943 — March 25, 2023

Niles, Michigan

Kenneth Eugene Working, age 79 years of Niles, Michigan; husband, father, grandfather, brother, musician, teacher, and honorable veteran died peacefully at 12:05 p.m. on Saturday, March 25, 2023 with his family gathered around at his home following a recent diagnosis of multiple myeloma.  His family is grateful for the kind and compassionate care provided by the staff of hospice, assisted by family who were present around the clock.

He was born on October 2, 1943 at the former Pawating Hospital in Niles to Franklin O. and Virginia M. (Grice) Working and was graduated with the class of 1961 from Niles High School where he had also become a proficient tuba player.  He continued his education at the University of Michigan, majoring in Music Education before changing to Police Administration at Michigan State University, playing tuba in both of the universities’ great marching bands.  While working for MSU’s campus police in 1967 he was drafted into the United States Army.  He served on the ground in Vietnam with the Division Support Command, traveling with his tuba and fellow bandsmen to entertain the troops and build morale.  He was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for meritorious service, and the Bronze Star Medal for heroic or meritorious service in a combat zone, was promoted to Sergeant, and was honorably discharged as a veteran of the Vietnam Era.

He returned to MSU, earning a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Arts Woodworking, and then earned a Master’s degree in Education.  He was hired by Niles Community Schools as a teacher and beloved band director to thousands of students over three decades.  He “retired” in 2002, but continued to serve for several years as assistant band director to his young successors.  After his final last day at school, he was employed by Lakeland Healthcare as a courier for the laboratories.

Ken was a member of the Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception Parish in Niles, and of the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Niles Elks #1322.  He continued his interest in music, playing tuba with the Southwest Michigan Brass Band and the SWMBOA All-Star Band.  He was also proficient on several other instruments including the guitar and ukulele.  When at home he spent time in his woodshop, designing and producing fine furniture.

He always enjoyed the outdoors, maintaining both a twenty-eight foot Searay sport boat and an RV, camping at Silver Lake State Park near Ludington, Michigan, and fishing for walleye near Cheboygan, Michigan.  He volunteered at the Niles Haunted House, and as a young man had been active in a local troop of the Boy Scouts of America, and the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce – the “Jaycees”.  More recently he and Mary enjoyed spending winters in Wesley Chapel, Florida, at a resort that welcomed him to a well-equipped woodshop.

He met the former Mary Marshall while they were in Ninth Grade at Niles High School, and she truly became the love of his life.  On September 25, 1965 at the new Saint Mark Catholic Church on Niles’ eastside he married Mary Margaret Marshall with whom he celebrated last year the remarkable Fifty-seventh Anniversary of their wedding.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Jim and Virginia Working; and by his brothers, James F. Working who died in 1991 and Jack A. Working who died in 1997.

Surviving family includes his wife, Mary Working and their daughter, Kristi (& Brian) Middleton of Battle Creek, Michigan; grandchildren Megan Lutzen, Serra Lutzen, and Max Lutzen; and by Ken’s sister, Carol (& Stan) Stovold of Lake Bluff, Illinois, and several nieces and nephews; and an amazing circle of great friends and wonderful former students.

The Mass of Christian Burial for Ken Working will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 29, 2023 at Saint Mary Catholic Church, 203 South Lincoln Avenue in Niles by the Rev. Christian Johnston, assisted by Deacon Roger Gregorski, both of Saint Mary’s Parish.  Committal Rites will follow at Calvary Cemetery in Niles, and will conclude with the Veteran’s Flag Presentation by the United States Army Honor Guard and “Taps” by fellow band director Steve Gruver. The ceremony will be available online on the Halbritter-Wickens Facebook page at .

The family will receive relatives and friends on Tuesday from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at the Halbritter-Wickens Funeral Home, 615 East Main Street in Niles, with recitation of The Rosary at 7:30 p.m.  Contributions in memory of Ken may be made to the Christian Service Center of Saint Mary’s Parish, 322 Clay Street, Niles, Michigan, 49120, , or to the Niles Vikings Band Boosters, 1441 Eagle Street, Niles, Michigan, 49120.  Online condolences may be left at:

Ken clearly loved life and used it well, with a lifelong pursuit of educating young lives, a life spent practicing, performing, and enjoying music, and a lifetime of loving his family, especially Mary.  His daughter remembers him as “a kind, patient person with a gentle spirit.”  High praise, of which Ken’s life is certainly worthy.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Ken Working, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Tuesday, March 28, 2023

6:00 - 8:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Recitation of the Rosary

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Starts at 7:30 pm (Eastern time)

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Livestreamed Funeral Service

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Starts at 10:55 am (Eastern time)

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Mass of Christian Burial

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Saint Mary Catholic Church

209 S Lincoln Ave, Niles, MI 49120

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Committal with Veteran's Flag Presentation and "Taps"

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Starts at 12:10 pm (Eastern time)

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