Kenton Ensor served on the board of directors since the district was organized in 1961 until early 2022. Ken was an accomplished innovator and engineer. In 2017, he was recognized by Turfgrass Producers International as Innovator of the Year.
Kenton Clancet Ensor, Jr. was born in Denver on September 16, 1937 and passed away on December 14, 2022. Ken spent his early years in Estes Park, Colorado, where his parents built, owned, and ran a cabin rental business. As a young boy, he spent his days playing on mountain trails and in creeks, and riding his beloved pony, Lollipop. Ken and Lollipop were known to ride into the kitchen for a quick “hello” when Ken’s mother was cooking.
After World War II, the family moved back to the Denver area where Ken’s father continued a successful construction and real estate company. Ken attended Littleton High School; prior to graduating, however, he and his best friend Charles Ditsch decided to leave Colorado and travel the country in Charles’ truck, stopping in various places to work to earn money. When they returned home, they graduated from Randall High School and set out on their next escapade – driving an old bread truck they converted into a camper and heading to Alaska to work in the fisheries/canneries in Anchorage and Fairbanks.
After that adventure, Ken headed to Arizona with his sister and brother-in-law to attend Arizona State University. He later transferred to the University of Michigan, graduating from the esteemed College of Engineering.
In 1962, he married Barbara Hootman and the two moved to Columbus, Indiana, where he worked for Cummins Engine and where their first daughter was born. Shortly thereafter, the young family moved back to Ann Arbor so Ken could pursue his Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. He received the degree from the University of Michigan in 1965.
After graduate school, Ken moved his family to Southern California, where he worked on designing diesel semi-truck engines for the White Motor Co., and where his second daughter was born. The family returned to Colorado and in 1968, his third daughter was born. The family also lived in Reno, Nevada for a brief period while Ken worked for Lear Jet.
Finally settled at home in Littleton, Colorado, Ken aided his father and family members in the family’s construction and real estate businesses and the family sod farm, Green Valley Turf. He developed Dillon Valley West in the mountains as well as undertook developments in a number of other locations in Summit County, Colorado.
Through this all, his passion for machines, science, and engineering never waned. After years of ideas, drawings and prototypes, Ken developed an innovative truck-carried forklift. Based on his experience working in the sod industry, he saw a need for a small, maneuverable forklift that did not need to be towed to job sites; rather the forklift could hitch a ride on the back of a flatbed truck carrying the rolls of sod. The “Donkey,” as he called the forklift (an ode to the donkeys that assisted miners in the Rocky Mountains in the Old West), grew into a robust, Colorado-based business supplying moving companies, brick and landscape businesses, the sod industry, and more – across North America and in Australia and other reaches. In 2017, Turfgrass Producers International honored Ken, inventor of the Donkey forklift and founder of Quality Corp., with its Innovator of the Year Award.
Ken sold the Donkey business to Hol-Mac in 2016 yet continued to advise the company. Hol-Mac remains committed to manufacturing the Donkeys in the U.S. – something important to Ken – supplying the most powerful, stable, and flexible truck-mounted forklifts in the world.
Ken also lent his expertise and guidance to several local manufacturing companies as well as serving on a number of boards including the Dillon Valley District Board and up until very recently, the Southwest Metropolitan Water and Sanitation District.
Always active and needing to invent new things and keep busy – his daughters stockpiled projects for him to undertake whenever he visited – Ken in later years traveled to Australia and to Israel and hosted family vacations in Alaska and Lake Powell. In December 2018, at the age of 81, he snowmobiled on the Continental Divide.
Ken had a passion for original country and bluegrass music (especially the Carter Family singers) and for lifelong learning. The last books he was reading before his passing focused on Armenian history as well as the latest discoveries in Engineering. He loved a good argument and adored spending time with his grandchildren, for whom he always had advice and projects to accomplish. He was generous with his family and with strangers – donating money for several scholarship programs for young people unable to pay for college.