Kenneth Reginald Broome
May 19, 1925-March 11, 2017
Our dear father died one week ago today. It was a gorgeous spring day - the first fine weekend after our very rainy winter. He had been surrounded by his family the last weeks of his life.
Ken was well known in the community for his active involvement in the Rotary Club of Woodside, the World Affairs Council, the South Skyline Association, the League of Women Voters of the Peninsula and the parish of Our Lady of the Wayside in Portola Valley.
He lived with his wife of 62 years, Heather, on Skyline Blvd., Woodside, adjacent to his daughter and her family from 1994 to 2010 when he moved "down the hill" to what was then Woodside Terrace. Once there, he continued his community activities in addition to taking on President of the Residents Association. As an engineer, he also had plans to design a roof top solar system for the complex.
A member of the Greatest Generation, Ken was born in England and attended St. Dunstan’s College (private high school), London and then went on to St John’s College, Cambridge University, where he and Heather met in the Cambridge University Society for International Affairs (CUSIA). He obtained an MA in Engineering in under 3 years due to WWII and began a lifetime of engineering projects which spanned continents and technical realms.
He began his career working on the Lion and the Unicorn Building at the 1951 Festival of Britain in London before immigrating in 1952 with his wife and two young children on the Queen Elizabeth to work in the aerospace industry of Southern California and Florida, including designing booster rockets for the Apollo rocket space program.
In 1964, he moved north to the SF bay area to join Bechtel Corporation in San Francisco while living in the paradise of Marin in the 1960s. His projects in engineering included floating dry docks, oil projects in the Middle East, nuclear energy and prefabricated concrete housing.
In 1971, in the age before “startups” became commonplace, he joined an effort based out of Indiana that focused on prefabricated housing. In many cases, his ideas seemed ahead of their times - only to come to fruition years later.
He always moved on to the next idea which he threw himself into it with great enthusiasm and determination. He moved back to California in 1994 after two decades in Pennsylvania working with nuclear power projects, land development and an independent partnership, Williams and Broome, working on water power and other energy-related projects.
Far from retiring after his move back West, he patented his small scale hydropower idea and working with neighbors and his two grandsons in the South Skyline area, formed Aquajet to move the idea to reality.
Ken in his final years wrestled with reconciling religion and science and attempted to come up with a grand synthesis of the two that would inform how to live with purpose in this world.
He is survived by his 6 children: Claire Broome of Berkeley, Stephanie Broome of Palo Alto, Rosemary Broome of Woodside, Jenny Broome of Santa Cruz, Elizabeth Broome of San Diego and Martin Broome of Newbury Park. His 7 grandchildren are Gabriel Head of Houston, TX, Steven Head of Davis, Anne Widera of San Francisco, Chloe Lalonde of Atlanta, GA, Geoffrey Lalonde of Woodside, and Phoebe and Nicola Hall of Santa Cruz.
A service is planned for the 27th of May at Our Lady of the Wayside chapel in Portola Valley, CA at 11am with a gathering for remembrances afterwards on the grounds.
Tags: public service