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“One Day More” was Kevin’s favorite song from the musical Les Miserables and the line “I did not live until today” completes his life from earth to his heavenly home.
Kevin was born on September 2, 1957 in Elkhart to the late Richard and Mary Alice Ong. While in high school he loved being a part of the Concord Marching Minutemen and being able to verbally express himself in a speech competition or hold the floor during a debate. Not only could Kevin speak eloquently, but he was also given the nickname “Blue Velvet” because he wore an elegant blue velvet jacket to every competition. He graduated from Concord High School in 1976 and went on to attend Hillsdale College, graduating Summa Cum Laude in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in speech and theater with a minor in English. But Kevin was not done learning, he also graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a master’s degree in education.
Kevin was hired at Elkhart Central where he taught speech, theater, and English for 34 years. Because he loved being a part of speech and debate during his high school years and he wanted the “next generation” to gain confidence and succeed in their future, Kevin gladly took on the extracurricular job of head speech and debate coach. He even went on to become a board member for several years and eventually the Executive Director for three years for the Indiana High School Forensics Association. For his dedication to the craft, Kevin earned Diamond Status for coaching speech from the IHSFA, was inducted into the IHSFA Hall of Fame and coached three students into the Nationals Speech Competition. He spent many long evenings after school, working with students and many long Saturdays going to speech tournaments throughout the area – after all, who doesn’t love getting up at the crack of dawn on your day off to take a group of high schoolers to a speech invitational. Kevin loved it!
When he wasn’t at speech and debate competitions, he could be found in the school auditorium directing thespians as they practiced a fall or spring show. His favorite play was “Noises Off” and during his tenure as director had it produced three times. Kevin was also an amazing set designer and set builder for each production.
During this time, he met and fell in love with Valerie “Val” Wiseman. They were married on July 7, 2007 and had the opportunity to “go to the land down under” and enjoyed their honeymoon in Australia. Kevin had a photographer’s eye and took many pictures on their honeymoon and then he was always the one taking pictures at family gatherings or on vacations.
In their home he used his set design and building talents to add a three-tier side deck with two patios to the house and he even had fun laying wood and tile flooring – if he and Val did it together. The two also enjoyed going to movies, the theater (both professional and amateur), the casinos and out to Las Vegas.
Kevin was an avid reader, especially of “Lord of the Rings”, Clive Cussler or Dick Frances novels. As an English major, he also loved to write. He authored several essays, short stories and several articles that were published in the Notre Dame Magazine. He also wrote a dinner-theatre murder mystery, titled, “A Murder in Cripple Creek.”
Those left to lovingly remember Kevin are Valerie; his sons, Jonathan (TeeA), Jeremy (Risa), and Geoffrey (Janet); grandchildren, Rebekah, Lawrence, and Bethany; and brothers, Steve (Teri), Page, and B. Nelson. Kevin was preceded in death by his parents, a brother David, and a sister Megan Corbridge.
Those that knew Kevin will remember his humor, especially his use of puns. Even when his illness was much progressed, he started putting family photographs on the kitchen window...his last pun...a picture window.
Kevin lost his battle with Frontotemporal Dementia, but we know he is once again speaking and debating, probably with his brother David in heaven. In lieu of flowers, the family request that donations be made to The Association of Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD) online a www.theaftd.org.
Funeral services for Kevin will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, March 9 at Hartzler-Gutermuth-Inman Funeral Home, 403 W. Franklin St., Elkhart. Friends may visit with the family at the funeral home from 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 8 and one hour prior to the service.