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James Kenneth "Ken" Land II

Written by Cole Williams on . Posted in Obituaries

The Advocate called him a "rarity." Ken Land died Good Friday, March 29, 2013 at Baton Rouge General Hospital, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

He was born August 27, 1922 in Baton Rouge. He lived his almost 91 years fully and on his own terms. He did it his way and with honors to the end. Ken left a legacy of fairness and generosity to his many friends and family. The youngest of two sons of Edmund Josephus Land of Pamlico County and New Bern, NC and native Baton Rougean, Mary Inez Whitty, he attended private schools, then was in the first graduating class of Dufrocq Elementary. He graduated with honors from Baton Rouge High in 1938, where he began his printing and publishing career as Assistant Editor of The Fricassee school yearbook, and was a member of Louisiana Delta chapter of Phi Lambda Epsilon fraternity. At Louisiana State University, he earned a degree with honors in Engineering. Although he was Class of '42, he remained an extra year to serve as editor of The Gumbo in 1943. He was a member of Omicron Delta Kappa national honor fraternity, Phi Eta Sigma honor fraternity for students with a 3.5 to 4.0 grade average, Kappa Mu Epsilon math honor society, Alpha Chi Sigma professional chemistry society, and Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership honor society for exceptional college leaders. He was also a member of Lambda Chi Alpha and the American Institute of Chemical Engineering. As an exceptional college leader, he was honored in Who's Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities. In addition to all the academic societies in high school and college, he played clarinet in the Baton Rouge High and LSU marching bands. During WWII, he worked at Standard Oil (now Exxon), Baton Rouge plant, with the team that developed butyl rubber, making his contribution to the war effort. He and his brother, Edmund Josephus "E. J." Land, Jr.,deceased, worked the family farm for a few post war years. He also worked at Franklin Press (now Franklin Printing), the family business his parents founded. Then he had a unique idea. In 1952 he founded the Weekly Leader, a newspaper for the black community. Shortly after, he changed the name to News Leader. Through the Civil Rights years, the News Leader reported social, business, political, and religious news for the black communities of Louisiana, Arkansas, eastern Texas, Mississippi, and other Southern states. The paper was mailed world-wide to black members of the Armed Forces. Many young boys had their first job pitching papers for the News Leader. Ken was an innovator in employment practices, hiring blacks, women, and immigrants for important professional printing jobs as editors, pressmen, advertising sales people. He provided black business owners an outlet for advertising for the first time. The News Leader is available on microfilm at East Baton Rouge Parish Library and is a part of the historic newspaper collection at LSU. Ken also founded Land and Land Printing with his two youngest sons Rob and Johnny, where they printed law books for Claitor's Publishing, the annual publication The Diocese of Baton Rouge Catholic Church Records for the Diocese of Baton Rouge, cookbooks for many local and regional chefs, government publications, his own LSU commemorative publications, and other large commercial printing projects for local, regional, and national companies. He was in the printing business over 50 years and was still going to the office well into his 80's. He married first Margaret Louise Dalferes of Crowley, and New Orleans, LA on November 19, 1943. They had four children, Virginia Fairly currently of Los Angeles, CA, married to Clyde H. Tull, James Kenneth "Jim" currently of Sacramento, CA, married to Carolyn E. Angell, Robert Edmund "Rob" deceased, and John Stephen "Johnny" currently of Port Allen, LA. Their grandchildren are Robert Edmund Land, Jr., deceased, Daniel J., Michael P. and John S. "Buddy" Land, all of Baton Rouge. They have 8 great grandchildren. Ken later married Ivy Yates Robertson, who had 4 children by a previous marriage. His step-children are Paul B. Robertson, Donna D. Robertson, Brenda Kelly, and Kurt Robertson. He treated them with love and affection as if they were his own. Ken and Ivy did not have children. Ken had a lifelong curiosity. He always had a dictionary and an encyclopedia handy. He and Ivy loved to do their crosswords to start the day until her death in 2005. He gardened and loved his dog Happy. He researched and enjoyed family history that dates back on the Land side to Jamestown 1630 and the Norman Invasion of England, to the first French and Spanish settlements of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast and to the founding of Baton Rouge on his mother's side. He was an avid fan of LSU football and attended every home game until health no longer permitted. Then he coached from his living room sofa. Funeral services were held Friday, April 12, 2012. Visitation was at Rabenhorst Funeral Home Downtown, 825 Government Street, Baton Rouge, LA from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. with a service in the chapel conducted by The Very Rev. J. Mark Holland at 1:00 p.m. Graveside service and inurnment followed at Roselawn Memorial Park, 4045 North Street.

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