This Week


Largest Load Seen In Hamilton County Headed to Canada

Sitting on the corner of the intersections of Highway 50 and Highway 27, The Syracuse Journal gets a front row seat to a lot of unusual vehicles and visitors that go through the town. On Friday, May 20, an oversize load came through town. Even though many of these come through town, this one was the biggest of them all 220 feet long 22 feet tall.

KENCO High Load Specialist trucks rolled up to the intersection about 12:30 p.m. and started working to get traffic lights raised and wires out of the way. About 15 minutes later, the truck, with its load, started coming up the street to make the turn onto Highway 50. It took another 15 minutes for the truck to make it through the intersection and make the turn. After that the truck sat and waited for the workers to make sure all wires were out of the way for the truck. That took about another 10 minutes to finish going west to the turn onto Highway 27 north. That turn took another 10 minutes. Close to one hour for a trip that normally takes about two to three minutes. Many vehicles could be seen parked along the route watching as they went through town.
Even though that sounds like a long time, for employees of KENCO it is just a normal day.

“Our speed averages about 15 mph,” said company owner Kenny Mungle. “Top speed is 25 to 30 mph, but that is downhill with a good tail wind.”

Going that speed, they don’t get anywhere fast. The load that came through on Friday left Houston four weeks earlier. A normal vehicle making that trip would take about 13 hours, and they are far from reaching their destination, Alberta, Canada. Alberta is about 23 hours from Syracuse for a typical trip. For this load, it could take four to six more weeks. When they get to Alberta and deliver their load they are still not finished.

“After they deliver that load they will go somewhere else and pick up another load,” Mungle said. “They could go from Alberta to Nebraska then Oklahoma and California and then Arizona. They can be gone from home for months.”

To ensure that he is able to keep men on the job, Mungle guarantees they will be paid for ten hours a day minimum, regardless of what they might actually be doing. Taking care of his employees ensures they stay with the load from start to finish.

“It may be raining and we can’t move, so my guys are in a hotel room sleeping and eating, but they are still getting paid for ten hours,” Mungle said.

Roads are not always the most ideal either. Due to the height of the load they are not able to travel on the interstates. This load was 22-feet high and was the tallest of all loads.

“We travel a lot of cow trails and farm roads,” Mungle laughed.

Mungle started his company 15 years ago and decided to go with purple for his trucks and t-shirts. Many have told him that going with purple was a great marketing move. Mungle just thought it would be a good color. The purple does set him apart from other escort companies.

“Everyone recognizes our purple trucks and t-shirts. If we do a good job they remember we were the ones in the purple trucks and t-shirts, but if we mess up everyone remembers we were the ones in the purple trucks and t-shirts,” Mungle said.
For more information on KENCO High Load Specialists, visit their website at

Thelma E. Branine

Thelma E. Branine, age 98, passed away on Tuesday, May 3, 2016 at the Scott County Hospital in Scott City, Kan.  She was born on Aug. 13, 1917 in Carman, Ill., the daughter of Cleveland and Nellie Bollander Polson.  She was resident of Scott City since July of 2013, relocating from Pueblo, Colo. She was a farm wife and Avon Representative and a member of the United Methodist Church in Holly, Colo. On Nov. 1, 1933, she married Haysler Allen Branine in Syracuse, Kan.

Survivors include, one son, Allen & Jackie Branine of Manitou Springs, Colo.; three daughters, Linda & Bob Wilson of Pueblo, Sue & Randy Eddy of Thornton, Colo., and Nikki & Bob Cooper of Scott City; one daughter in law, Albina Branine of Pueblo; one sister, Nadine O’Connor of Austin, Texas; 18 grandchildren; 43 great grandchildren; and 12 great great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents; husband; two sons, Wayne and Terry; one brother; three sisters; and two great grandchildren.

Funeral Services will be held at the First Christian Church of Scott City at 10 a.m. (CST) Friday, May 6, 2016 with pastors Steve Payne and Scott Wagner officiating. Visitation will be held from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. (CST) Thursday, May 5 at Price & Sons Funeral Home in Scott City.

Interment will follow at the Syracuse Cemetery in Syracuse, Kan. at 1 p.m. (MST) Friday, May 6, 2016.
Memorials may be made to the Park Lane Nursing Home or Cooper’s Cause in care of Price & Sons Funeral Home in Scott City, Kan. E-Condolences may be given at or

Susan Marie (Curtis) Houck

Pending Services - Susan Marie (Curtis) Houck passed away on Sunday, April 17, 2016 at the age of 78 at her daughters home in, Wichita, Kan.  Funeral Services will be announced by Fellers Funeral Home & Monuments LLC, PO Box 1253 – 401 N. Sumner, Syracuse, KS 67878.

Rosa Lee Raney

Rosa Lee Raney, age 86, of Johnson, Kan. passed on to a new journey to be with our Father in heaven on Friday, April 15, 2016 at Meade District Hospital in Meade, Kan. She was born March 6, 1930 in Bucklin, Kan., the daughter of James Lewis and Ethel Zella (Manis) McQuerrey.

Rosa Lee was a real estate broker owning Raney Realty. While growing up, her dad was an electrician and the family traveled extensively throughout the western states. Her father worked on the Hoover Dam. She graduated from Syracuse High School. Rosa Lee married Carl Edward “Tag” Raney in Syracuse, Kan. She was a Civic Leader, serving as a chairwoman for the Stanton County Centennial Committee. Rosa Lee was also a 4-H Leader for the Go-Getters 4-H Club in Manter, Kan.; chairperson for Stanton County Economic Developmen; past-president and secretary for Johnson Rotary Club; a member of the NRA; and a member of Johnson United Methodist Church since November 8, 1962.

She is survived by two sons, Wayne Lewis Raney and wife Dianne of Hoxie, Kan., and Carl Arthur Raney; one daughter, Virginia Lee Cauthorn and husband Charles of Brighton, Colo.; sister, Judith Kay Porsche and husband Thomas of Bucklin; five grandchildren, Kelly Ann Qualey, Erica Lee Unruh, Cheyenne Raney, Micah Raney, Taylor Raney; three great-grandchildren, Brooklyn, Madison and Ashton Unruh.

She is preceded in death by her parents; husband, Carl Edward “Tag” Raney; sister, Bonnie B. Wakefield; and brother-in-law, Vernon Wakefield.

Funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 20, 2016 at the Johnson First United Methodist Church in Johnson, Kan. with Reverend Richard Fitzgerald officiating. Interment will follow at the Stanton County Cemetery in Johnson. Friends may call from 4 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 at Garnand Funeral Home in Johnson. Memorial contributions may be given to the Stanton County Museum in care of Garnand Funeral Home, PO Box 715, Johnson, Kansas 67855.

Oscar Enoch Rector

Oscar Enoch Rector, age 104, passed away on Saturday, March 26, 2016 at the Stanton County Long Term Care in Johnson, Kan. He was born on Sept. 10, 1911 in Overton, Neb., the son of Clifford Earl Rector  and Ada Mae (McAninch) Rector.

Oscar began his life in Overton and moved with his family to Hamilton County, Kansas in 1922. His family homesteaded land that he lived on and farmed. He attended Syracuse High School and graduated in 1928. On Feb. 11, 1934, he married Nellie Pearl Roberts in Cimarron, Kan., and they made their home on the farm southeast of Syracuse. To this union two children were born, Dixie Charlene, and Judith Kay. Oscar and Pearl moved to Syracuse in 1964 and retired, but his farming continued with the help of his daughter Dixie and husband Barney, as well as his grandson Mark. Oscar and Pearl lived in Syracuse until 2014, when they moved to the Assisted Living Memorial Center in Johnson due to their health. He moved to the Stanton County Long Term Care in 2016 after the passing of his wife Pearl. 

Oscar was a member of the First United Methodist Church and the Masonic Lodge, both of Syracuse. He enjoyed woodworking,  yard work, collecting Hesston Belt Buckles, but his greatest enjoyment was watching his grandchildren and great grandchildren's school activities.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Clifford and Ada Mae; his spouse, Nellie Pearl Rector; a daughter, Judith Kay (Rector) Kohlhorst; a brother, Francis Earl Rector; and a sister, Catherine Mary Digby.

He is survived by one daughter, Dixie (& husband Barney) Akers of Kendall, Kan.; four grandsons, Mike (& wife Shanna) Akers of Greenville, Texas, Mark (& wife Cindy) Akers of Kendall, Randall Kohlhorst of Syracuse, and Justin (& wife Jillian) Kohlhorst of Garden City, Kan.; nine great grandchildren; six great great grandchildren; as well as numerous family members and friends

Memorial Services will be held on Wednesday, March 30, 2016 at 10 a.m. (MDT) at the First United Methodist Church in Syracuse. Burial will follow in the Syracuse Cemetery in Syracuse.

Condolences may be sent to In Lieu of Flowers memorial contributions may be payable to the First United Methodist Church,  and sent in care of Fellers Funeral Home & Monuments LLC, P.O. Box 1253, Syracuse, KS 67878. 620-384-5100.

Robby Lynn Berndt

Funeral services for Robby Berndt will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 30, 2016 at the First Christian Church in Holly, Colo. with Pastor Kurtis Klinghammer officiating. Interment will follow in the Holly Cemetery.


Robby Lynn Berndt was born on July 2, 1951 in Lamar, Colo. to Fred and Arlene (States) Berndt. He passed away at his home in St. David, Ariz. on March 21, 2016 at the age of 64.


Robby began working as a farm hand and later worked for a short time with his brother Guy in his scraper business. After many years of truck driving, Robby retired. In 1996 he moved to St. David. He enjoyed being in Arizona, surrounded by family members. Robby found that he was quite a master at selling things and was a natural salesman. He made sure that his nieces and nephews knew how special they were to him.


Robby is survived by his twin children, Dallas Berndt and wife, Amber of Goodland, Kan. and Robin Welchel and husband, Donnie of Colby, Kan.; sister, Linda Schwartz of St. David; brother, Guy Berndt and wife, Janice of St. David; four grandchildren; one great grandchild; many nieces, nephews, other relatives and a host of friends.


He was preceded in death by his parents, Fred and Arlene Berndt; brother, Richard “Dick” Berndt; and brother-in-law, Gus Schwartz.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Valley Memorial Funeral Chapel, P.O. Box 950, Lamar, CO 81052. For more information or to leave online condolences, please visit

Donna Lorraine Joyce Blake

Donna Lorraine Joyce Blake, age 65, passed away on Monday, March 14, 2016 at the Hamilton County Hospital in Syracuse, Kan. She was born on March 7, 1951 in Isleworth, Middlesex, England, the daughter of Donald Ezra Blake, USAF and Kathleen Joyce (Hill) Blake of London, England.

Donna, the eldest of eight children, began her life in Isleworth, Middlesex, England, and at the age of two she moved with her family to Yuma, Ariz. At the age of four, she moved with her family to Cannon City, Colo. for a short year when she and her family moved to Broadstairs, Kent, England. She attended a Primary School for two years.  She and her family moved to Forbes Air Force Base in Topeka, Kan. where she attended Topeka Elementary. In 1963, she and her family moved to Syracuse where she attended Syracuse Schools and graduated in 1969. She went on to further her education and attended Goodland Vo-Tech, majoring in Secretarial Studies. While she was going to college she was employed as a nanny to earn income to put herself through school.

In 1970, she moved back to Syracuse, where she worked as a waitress at the Shamrock Restaurant for one year. In 1971, she began working as a Court Clerk and a Judge Pro-Tem. In 1977, she was appointed as a District Magistrate Judge for the 25th Judicial District of Kansas. She was retained in the position through many elections and was highly regarded in the judicial system, receiving the prestigious Lee E. Nusser Award in 2014.

Donna became a Girl Scout Leader in 1983 for the Junior, Cadet and Senior local girl scouts, also serving as a trainer for other Girl Scout Leaders in the area.  Donna received the prestigious "Council Honor Award" for extraordinary service and contributing to overall council goals by the Tumbleweed Girl Scout Council in 2003.
She has been a member of the Southwest Judges Association since her appointment as a Judge in 1977, serving as President of the Association since 1993, stepping down in 2014.  She also has served on the Kansas State Education Committee for the Judges Association beginning in 1993.

Donna was an avid photographer and was often called upon by family and friends to document important events in their lives. She won several awards for her photography.

Donna was also recognized regionally and awarded for her artwork. She had a showing in a local art gallery of her various works.  She worked in many different media.

Donna was a member of the Hamilton County Humane Society for Foster Homes for dogs. Her hobbies included creating art, crocheting, photography, cooking, reading and traveling. She had a great love of animals and was a Kansas Lottery Supporter. Her greatest enjoyment was watching Kansas City Chiefs football, and she was an avid Chiefs fan. 

She was preceded in death by her parents, Donald and Kathleen Blake; one brother, Graham W. Blake; and one sister, Vicki L. Blake.

She is survived by two brothers, Richard (& wife Teresa) Blake of Liberal, Kan., and Kenneth Blake of Syracuse; three sisters, Debra (& husband Jim) Lane of Trinidad, Colo., Sharon Godfrey (& husband Gary Wortham) of Magee, Miss., and Christine Blake (& husband Galicano Alea) of Garden City, Kan.; as well as numerous family members and friends.

Funeral Services were held on Friday, March 18, 2016 at the First United Methodist Church, in Syracuse. Burial followed at the Syracuse Cemetery in Syracuse.

Visitation was held on Monday, March 17, 2016 at the Fellers Funeral Home LLC, Syracuse.
Condolences may be sent to In Lieu of Flowers memorial contributions may be payable to the Hamilton County Humane Society,  and sent in care of Fellers Funeral Home & Monuments LLC, P.O. Box 1253, Syracuse, KS 67878. 620-384-5100.

Grant Dale Houck

Grant Dale Houck., age 85, passed away on Thursday, March 10, 2016 at his daughters home in Wichita, Kan. He was born on Sept. 25, 1930 in Lakin, Kan., the son of Jesse Dale Houck  and Hilda Maude (Bennett) Houck.

Grant began his life in Lakin, growing up on a farm northeast of Kendall and went to Wonderland school, a one room school located close to his home. After Finishing the eight grade, the Houck family moved to Syracuse, Kan. so he could go to high School. After graduating from high school in 1949, he joined the United States Air Force and spent the next fours years in Wichita Falls, Texas and Alaska. When Grant returned from the service he became involved in the farming operation with his father and his brother, Clark. Grant and Clark farmed together for 45 years. On June 10, 1962, he married Susan Marie Curtis. To this union three children were born, Gregory, Bethal, and Brenda. 

In 1964, Grant and Susan started attending church service at the Kendall United Methodist Church and have been very faithful in their attendance and service since that time. Grant was a church treasurer for 12 years and has served as a trustee and member of the Pastor Parish committee.


He built a fish farm near the family’s home that he stocked with catfish. Families from all over the state enjoyed fishing at his ponds. Although he was a avid hunter, he planted crops by the river near his home in order to provide food for all the wildlife over the winter months. Not only did Grant protect wildlife, he spent some summer nights guarding the Girl Scout camps his daughters attended as well as the Hamilton county fair grounds.


Grant was a member of the NRA, and the Kendall United Methodist Church, he also enjoyed making things and his latest hobby was making ornamental windvanes and displaying them along the driveway to their home. He took great enjoyment in attending his children's events. He never missed a football game, band or vocal music concert, or a track meet. Later, he enjoyed spending time with his grandkids and family. 


He was preceded in death by his parents, Jesse and Hilda Houck; and one brother, Edwin J. Houck.

He is survived by his spouse, Susan Houck, of Kendall; one son, Gregory Houck, of Grandview, Mo.; two daughters, Bethal Walker, of Wichita, Kan., and Brenda (& husband Kevin) Eckas, of Park City, Kan.; one brother, Clark Houck, of Tribune, Kan.; one sister, Carole Kane, of Brooklyn, N.Y.; four grandchildren, Shaila (& husband Ian) Hutchison of Wichita, LeMario Walker of Wichita, Alison Eckas of Wichita, Steven Walker of Ft. Collins, Colo.; one great grandchild:, Liliann Walker of Ft. Collins; as well as numerous family members and friends.

Funeral Services will be held on Tuesday, March 15, 2016 at 10 a.m. (MDT) at the First United Methodist Church, in Syracuse. Burial will follow in the Syracuse Cemetery in Syracuse. Visitation was held on Monday, March 14, 2016 at the Fellers Funeral Home LLC, Syracuse.


Condolences may be sent to In Lieu of Flowers memorial contributions may be payable to the Kendall United Methodist Church or Hamilton County Library,  and sent in care of Fellers Funeral Home & Monuments LLC, P.O. Box 1253, Syracuse, KS 67878. 620-384-5100.

Jimmy Ray Kirkland

Jimmy Ray Kirkland, age 62, of Johnson, Kan. died Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016 at the Stanton County Hospital in Johnson.  He was born Jan. 24, 1954 in Lamar, Colo., the son of James and Loretta (Tague) Kirkland.

Jim grew up in Springfield, Colo. until the age of 14 when he moved to Johnson with his family.  He graduated in 1972 from Johnson High School.  He worked from 1968-1983 for Ivan Josserand; 1983-1993 for Ted, Ella Mae and Basil Julian; then for Pat Josserand from 1993 until 2012.  He was also a Dekalb Seed dealer.  Jim was a big supporter of Pheasants Forever, belonging to the Southwest Kansas Ringnecks Chapter in Johnson.  He has been involved in the chapter since the 1980’s and was instrumental in organizing the annual youth hunts and more recently the trap shoots. At the local chapter banquet in January, they honored Jim by naming the youth hunt the 12th Annual Jim Kirkland Youth Hunt.  Jim fed the football boys steak at the end of their season for 14 years.  He also shot the touchdown canon at the football games.  Jim loved fishing, was an avid Bronco’s fan, and was a former member of the Jaycees. 

Jim married Denette Carol Gould on April 26, 1974 in Syracuse, Kan.  She survives.  

Other survivors include one daughter, Kandice Schwieterman of Syracuse; three brothers, Loyd Kirkland of Manter, Kan., John Kirkland of Harper, Kan., Robert Kirkland of Thornton, Colo.; three sisters, Cathy Thomas of Pampa, Texas, Brenda Parks of Manter, and Pam Moore of Johnson; three grandchildren, Kaiya Maas and husband Montana, Abigail Schwieterman, and Madalyn Schwieterman; and his beloved companion, Bo. 

Jim is preceded in death by his parents; daughter, Tracie Kirkland; and brother, Olan Kirkland. 

Funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, March 2, 2016 at the Fields Memorial Wesleyan Church in Johnson with Pastor Kurt Rovenstine officiating.  Interment will follow at the Syracuse Cemetery in Syracuse, Kansas.  Visitation was held on Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at Garnand Funeral Home in Johnson.  Memorial contributions may be given to the Jim Kirkland Memorial Fund in care of Garnand Funeral Home, PO Box 715, Johnson, Kansas 67855.

Rhoebe Ann Thompson

A memorial service for former Syracuse, Kan. resident, currently of Lamar, Colo., Rhoebe Ann Thompson will be held at 10 a.m. (MST) on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016 at the Wesleyan Church in Syracuse with Pastor Diane Hutson of the Friends Church in Las Animas officiating. Inurnment will follow in the Syracuse Cemetery.

Per Rhoebe Ann’s request cremation will take place and there will be no visitation.

Rhoebe Ann was born on July 5, 1958 at La Junta, Colo. to Harold Harvey and Lois Virginia (Randles) Thompson and passed away on Feb. 21, 2016 at her sister’s home with her family by her side at the age of 57.

She is preceded in death by her parents, Harold and Lois Thompson; sister-in-law, Peggy Thompson; brother, Nathan Thompson; nephew, Tyler Brummett and her grandparents.

Rhoebe Ann  is survived by her siblings, Clarissa Gay Thompson and Alton “Mort” Thompson both of Syracuse; Twyla and Robert Diehl of Herndon, Kan.; Shannon Craig Thompson of Lees Summit, Mo. and Amber and Troy Settles of Lamar and her beloved nieces and nephews, great-nieces and nephews, cousins, other family and many friends.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Lamar Area Hospice either direct or in care of the funeral home office. 


Services are under the direction of the Peacock Family. For current information and online condolences please visit our website at 

L. Kenneth "Ken" Brown


A Celebration of Life for longtime Coolidge, Kan. resident, L. Kenneth “Ken” Brown was held on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016 at the Peacock Family Chapel with Reverend Kathy Leathers of the Holly, Colo. United Methodist Church officiating.   Ken’s friend and family member, Brett Jones from Colleyville, Texas delivered the eulogy.

Serving as casket bearers were Ken’s nephews, Mike Trumble, Scott Trumble, Kenny Trumble, Chris Robertson, Josh Weimer and Zack Bennett.  Ken was laid to rest at the Fairmount Cemetery in Lamar, Colo.

Musical selections during the service were “Come Healing”, “I Can Only Imagine”, “Morning Has Broken,” “The Story”, “Stand by Me”, and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.  Gail Specht was Soloist for the songs, “One Day at a Time” and “Amazing Grace”.

Ken was born on Aug. 13, 1946 in Lamar to Leroy and Helen (Biernat) Brown.  After a courageous battle with cancer, he passed away on Jan. 24, 2016 at his home in Coolidge at the age of 69 with his loving wife by his side.

Ken lived in Holly until the age of 8 when he and his brother, Jaxon moved with their mother to Coolidge after her marriage to L. J. Eddy.   After graduating from Coolidge High School in 1964, he attended University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kan. where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting in 1969.  He worked for an accounting firm in Denver, Colo. for one year before returning to Coolidge to farm and ranch for his retiring step-dad and mother.

After graduating from KU, Ken joined the National Guard and was honorably discharged after five years of service. 

He met Darlene Denning in 1971 and they were joined in marriage Sept. 1, 1973.  Ken was happily married to his best friend for 42 years. They have one son, Ronald “Ronnie” Kenneth.  Ken was a devoted husband and father.  He was extremely proud of Ronnie’s accomplishments academically and in sports activities.  His wisdom and love will continue to guide them throughout their lives.

Ken loved basketball and was an avid player from high school throughout his later years playing on town teams until the age of 50.  One of his most memorable times was when he and Ronnie played on the same team during a local tournament in Syracuse.

Another pastime for Ken, was competing in online strategic computer games.  He enjoyed making and critiquing maps to help him advance on each new level.

One of Ken’s main attributes was his intellectual capacity and his ability to communicate with anyone he met.  He was knowledgeable on many subjects and always appreciated a genuine conversation.

Being an educated and successful farmer became a lifelong dream for Ken.  He accomplished that.  Alongside his wife and partner Darlene, they built and maintained a prominent farming operation.  His integrity, hard work and determination characterized the man he was. 

Ken is survived by his wife, Darlene Brown of the family home in Coolidge; one son, Ronnie Brown of Hurst, Texas; siblings, Jaxon (Dana) Brown of Crofton, Md.; Charles (Tani) Eddy of Holly; Stacia (Larry) Woods of Wimberly, Texas and Aleta Kay (Brian) McNabb of Austin, Txeas.  

He is preceded in death by his father, Leroy Brown; mother and step-father, Helen and Lou Eddy.  

At the end of every day, as a man rests from his labors, he asks himself, “Have I made my spouse and child proud? Did I make their worlds at least a little bit better?” Ever a caring husband and father, this is the way Ken lived his life.

For family members, longtime friends and anyone who was fortunate to know him, Kenny Brown is already missed.