Published in the August 26, 2016 edition

Kenneth-Crannell-obit-webSAUGUS — Kenneth Charles Crannell, 82, passed away Aug. 19, surrounded by the love of his family, in his home in Saugus, following a lengthy decline.

He was the third child of the late Dorothy (Staples) and Charles Clayton Crannell. Ken was preceded in death by his parents and older brothers, John Willis Crannell and William Gilbert Crannell. He is survived by his best friend and wife of 56 years, Patricia (Roberts) Crannell. He is also survived by children Kenneth C. Crannell Jr. “Chuck,” and Tracy (Crannell) Palumbo; daughter-in-law Martha (Hayes) Crannell; and son-in-law Paul Palumbo. He is also survived by his four grandchildren: Allison and Elizabeth Palumbo and Casey and Liam Crannell. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews.

Born in Lynn in 1934 and raised mainly in Malden, Ken always enjoyed ice skating and almost anything theatrical. He met his oldest friend, Becka Messina, at tap class when he was a pre-schooler. His interest in theater was continued through major roles in productions at Malden High School, where he graduated in 1951. Ken went on to Emerson College in Boston and worked under his father at the Lynn icehouses during the summer.

While a sophomore at Emerson, he contracted polio mere months before the Salk vaccine became available. When he returned to Emerson a year later, his reduced mobility did not dissuade him. Ken was class president and graduated with honors in 1955. It was there, as a graduate student, that he met the love of his life, and the woman who continued to encourage and support him – Patricia. They graduated in 1957 and got married in Annapolis, Md. in 1960, and settled in Malden. By then, he was an associate professor and already a beloved teacher at Emerson. Ken was proud to have had several yearbooks dedicated to him.

In 1964, Ken pursued his academic endeavors at Northwestern University as a visiting professor, where he earned his PhD. While in Evanston, Ill., he and Pat celebrated the arrival of their son. The family returned to Malden and Ken resumed his teaching at Emerson. A few years later, Ken and Pat returned to Evanston to greet the arrival of their daughter. By this time, Ken’s passion and skills as an oral interpreter were well-known and admired. Students, faculty and colleagues would enthusiastically attend his one-man performances of The King and I and My Fair Lady, as well as programs of poetry and prose. No one was left unimpressed – not even his own children! By now, he and Pat were raising their family in Melrose.

During those years, Ken was active at Trinity Church, the Melrose Community Players and as a consultant on Melrose High School musicals. Ken also taught homiletics at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton and Pope John XXIII National Seminary in Weston for many years. He was frequently a dialect coach to professional theater companies in Boston and gave workshops in presentational skills for executives at corporations in the area.

Ken published five editions of his text book, “Voice and Articulation,” and contributed to many other professional publications. He was the first faculty member elected to Emerson’s Board of Trustees. That was followed by a re-election 13 years later. Ken retired from Emerson in 2001, having spent most of his 42-year career as a full professor and then enjoying the benefits of Professor Emeritus. But he mainly treasured the relationships he had with innumerable students and alumni as their teacher and friend and an occasional nemesis. He cherished the friendships he made in his professional associations. Even when “retired,” he thoroughly enjoyed working with his private clients and had great pleasure seeing their progress whether on live TV or in a conference room. He was once called a dinosaur by a faculty member, but dinosaurs can squash obstacles and leave huge footprints to fill.

Ken’s greatest role was as a devoted and loving husband, father and grandfather. Ken loved spending time on Cape Cod with his family enjoying the beach and water, reading books or snorkeling along the shore. He enthusiastically spent numerous hours attending Tracy’s figure-skating lessons or Chuck’s bowling tournaments.

In later years, Ken’s oral interpretation skills focused on entertaining his four grandchildren by reading various children’s books or even a catalog to them. He enjoyed being escorted around the neighborhood by his grandchildren, often with one snuggled in his lap along for the ride. Kenny, Ken, Dr. Crannell, Dad, Pop-pop loved as much as he was loved.

A student, teacher and performer, his life was as simple and complex as the ending of one of his favorite Frost poems “The Road Not Taken”:

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Relatives and friends gathered in Ken’s honor during visiting hours at the Robinson Funeral Home, 809 Main St., Melrose on Wednesday, Aug. 24, and for his Funeral Service at Trinity Church, 131 West Emerson St., Melrose celebrated on Thursday, Aug. 25. Donations in Ken’s memory may be made to the Kenneth Crannell Scholarship at Emerson College, 120 Boylston St., Boston MA 02116 or to The Cradle Foundation, 2049 Ridge Ave., Evanston IL 60201. For online tribute and condolences visit