Entered into Rest : Jan. 22, 2011
Survived by: Wife, Catherine of Roseville; daughter, Arikka of Hermitage, Pa.; stepson, Benjamin Bruggy of Roseville; mother, Louise Richardson of Lithonia, Ga.; sisters, Sandi Kimble of Virginia, and Cheryl Hargrove of Lithonia, Ga.; and brother, Ronnie of Columbus, Ohio
Services: 10 a.m. Feb. 12 at Bridgeway Christian Church, 3735 Placer Corporate Drive, Rocklin
In memory: In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Reveille Ministry, Bridgeway Christian Church, attn: Dave Winter, 3735 Placer Corporate Drive, No. 560, Rocklin 95765; Campus Crusade for Christ, www.give.ccci.org/give/0608942 ; or Sutter Roseville Medical Center Foundation, Cancer/Oncology Fund, 1 Medical Plaza, Roseville 95661.
Kenneth M. Fears, who served his country as a veteran Air Force chief master sergeant and mentored young people as a Fair Oaks teacher and coach, died Jan. 22 of cancer. He was 60.
Forceful and charismatic, Chief Master Sgt. Fears was a natural leader in the military and the classroom. He reached the Air Force’s top enlisted rank during 30 years in security forces units, including law-enforcement and anti-terrorism operations.
He graduated from noncommissioned officer leadership schools and led security units at military sites in the United States and Europe. He earned many honors, including the Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters and the Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters.
He oversaw security drawdown plans for McClellan Air Force Base, where he retired in 2000.
Chief Master Sgt. Fears began a second career building future leaders as an Air Force JROTC teacher at Del Campo High School. His strict, demanding approach inspired students and helped shape the program into an award-winning unit.
The Air Force named him top aerospace science instructor from 2002 to 2009, and he was honored in 2003 with a statewide teaching award from the California Air Force Association.
“He was always encouraging students to achieve more,” said 1st Lt. David Snyder, a 2004 Del Campo graduate now flying Air Force C-17 planes. “He always set the bar higher than you normally would. He believed in you.”
Chief Master Sgt. Fears instilled the same life lessons as a Del Campo freshman and junior varsity football coach. He drilled players with a no-nonsense focus on hustle, physicality and discipline. He also spent time sitting and getting to know bench warmers.
“The kids sensed that he truly cared about them as individuals,” head football coach Jay Lottes said.
“They felt they had an advocate who had their back, and they would follow him almost blindly.”
The son of a Navy sailor, Kenneth Marshall Fears was born in 1950 in Pittsburg. He moved with his family to Columbus, Ohio, and joined the Air Force after graduating from high school in 1969.
He earned a criminal justice degree from Chapman University. He married his wife, Catherine, in 2004.
Chief Master Sgt. Fears touched thousands of young people’s lives. Current and former students visited his home on weekends, college breaks and military leaves to watch sports and catch up.
He served on the executive committee of Tree of Hope Funding, which helps small and minority-owned businesses. He reached out to service members and families as an active member of the Reveille ministry at Bridgeway Christian Church in Roseville.
” ‘Chief’ was a magnet for kids to come and talk to,” Del Campo teacher Jim Jordan said. “You always felt better about yourself when you were around him, because he made you feel important – whether you were a 15-year-old kid or a teacher for 30 years.”