Kenneth Duane Bjelland went by many names, but his favorite was “Captain” or “Commodore.” Ken returned to his port of call on Dec. 10, 2020, after a lengthy illness with Covid-19. He was 74.
Aboard his Pearson 26 sailboat, The Midnight Sun, Ken gave multitudes of people the opportunity to sail on Lake Shelbyville and enjoyed chartering sailboats elsewhere with anyone who would go. He was a fixture at Lithia Springs Marina for more than 30 years. In his professional life, he served as DeWitt County Farm Bureau manager for 35 years, advocating for agricultural issues. Through that work, he married his love of travel and food by arranging trips to near and far locations. Some adventures took Central Illinoisans skiing while others took corn and bean farmers to see how pineapples grew in Hawaii or cherries grew in Canada. He leapt at any opportunity to be on the water and eat seafood. He retired in 2016 and moved from Maroa, Ill., to Alton, Ill., to be with his wife, Adriana Marcuzzi. He will be remembered for his dry wit, adventurous palate, and love of life.
In addition to his wife, Ken is survived by his daughters Sarah Bjelland and Sonja (Luis Perez) Bjelland, and his grandson Callum Perez. Additional surviving family include his siblings Arnie (Jan) Bjelland, Don (Denise) Bjelland, Art (Betty) Bjelland, Marge Vacca, Alida Lumpkins, and Ariel (Nancy) Bjelland as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Martin and Lillian (Kallem) Bjelland, as well as his brothers Osmond and Melvin.
Due to Covid, a private service will be held at Christ Lutheran Church in Clinton, Ill., with Pastor David Dunlop officiating. An online viewing option will be available. In addition, a celebration of life will be held this summer at Lake Shelbyville. His ashes will be spread at Lake Shelbyville and the Bjelland family farm in Norway. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the DeWitt County Farm Bureau Foundation or St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.