On Aug. 31, Kenneth Stratton retired after 35 years working in the Oklahoma Christian University cafeteria. Stratton, known as “Kenny” by his many friends, has worked for Oklahoma Christian since he began working as a freshman in 1982.
On Thursday, Aug. 26, Oklahoma Christian celebrated Stratton’s retirement with a ceremony in the Gaylord Center. Guests included Stratton’s long-time friends, coworkers and Bible class members.
Lauren Olsen, Oklahoma Christian’s Catering Director, organized the event.
“Kenny started 35 years ago just doing the dishes and the floors, and he has been here ever since,” Olsen said. “He is very loved by so many people.”
Olsen said she organized the event as a way for everyone to get some closure.
“We’re hosting this for the campus so everyone can come and say their official goodbyes,” Olsen said. “He’s not just retiring; he’s retiring and moving away. He will not be just down the street like he has been for so long.”
Kurt Hermanson, Oklahoma Christian’s Regional Manager, said Stratton is moving back to Indiana to be with his mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease. Hermanson said he has known Stratton since the beginning of his employment at Oklahoma Christian.
“Kenny and I started working together in 1982,” Hermanson said. “I was the manager here and he was a freshman. He’s done a little bit of everything.”
Senior Caleb Phelps worked with Stratton and said he admired Stratton’s infectious sense of humor.
“I worked with Kenny pretty closely once I became student manager, and he was a funny guy to work with,” Phelps said. “You know, he constantly told jokes and stuff like that. Whenever there was a bad day at the cafeteria, Kenny was the one person to make it better.”
Besides Sratton’s humor and mastery of making prime ribs, Alden Bass talked about Stratton’s presence. Bass compared Stratton’s presence to that of Brother Lawrence from Christian history.
“Kenny reminds me of Brother Lawrence, because Brother Lawrence practiced the presence of God and worked in the kitchen all the time,” Bass said. “And Kenny is the same way. No matter what he is doing, it is all worship. And it makes others want to be in his presence. I think he’s fantastic.”
Stratton will leave behind many friends at Oklahoma Christian, and they will not soon forget his kind and fun spirit.
“Kenny has been serving students and faculty and staff for 35 years,” Hermanson said. “He is a great example. We love Kenny.”