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S GROUNDStomping profile


Kenneth Mathis STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRITNEY VOELKEL


from his career as an electrical engineer in Houston. His journey to Shelby has been quite a long one. After growing up and fi nishing high school


S in Miami, Ken


enlisted in the Marine Corps, where he spent four years of peacetime service. After his enlistment, he went on to earn a degree in electrical engineering and, after much travel, ended up in Houston, Texas, where he met his wife and they settled down to begin their life together. Since 1988, Ken and his wife had been


weekenders to Shelby. His wife grew up in the area and had family property that they would take care of on the weekends. T e two enjoyed being in Shelby so much that it was no question that they would spend their retirement years in the small community.


helby resident Kenneth (Ken) Mathis and his wife Joylene have lived in Shelby since 1999, when he retired


Shortly after moving to town, Ken noticed that


the Shelby Cemetery had several


members of military buried there. “Out of the four dozen members of military in the cemetery, only one was a Marine. So I made it my personal project


to care for this


Marine’s grave,” says Ken. When Ken enlisted in the Marine Corps many years ago, the Marine Corps motto, Semper Fidelis, had created a bond of brotherhood that would last forever. Once a Marine, always a Marine. Since discovering this lone Marine grave


in the Shelby Cemetery, Ken was able to fi nd out more about his history. Emmett Lee Veith fought in the Battle of Tarawa during World War II, where he was wounded in combat. After recovering in the hospital, he was sent to fi ght in Saipan, where he was killed just days later on June 19, 1944, one day after his twenty-third birthday. Veith


had no children and was survived by one sister, who has now passed on. Ken Mathis did not know this Marine,


but the bond of brotherhood evoked a sense of loyalty to give honor to this fallen soldier. On a regular basis, you can fi nd Ken playing Taps on his bugle at Emmett Veith’s grave during the holidays, special occasions, and any other time he is able. He is the caretaker of the fl ags on the grave and was elected by the Shelby Cemetery Organization to keep up with all fl ags at the cemetery. For the past fi ve years, on Father’s Day, Ken has been donating altar fl owers to the St. Paul Lutheran Church in Shelby in honor of Emmett Veith, since his birthday falls near Father’s Day. Ken is also a proud member of


the


Colorado Valley Marine Corps League Detachment 1028 in La Grange, Texas, where he holds the offi ce of Adjutant, Judge


16 Volume 6 Issue 1 | TexasLiVE | texaslivenetwork.com


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