Kenneth (Ken) Tuttle passed away on Thursday, November 19, 2020, at the age of 78. Ken had been diagnosed on October 30 with pancreatic cancer which had spread to his liver and lungs. He chose to come home and stay comfortable for the remainder of his days. His battle was over at 4:00 a.m. with his wife and daughter close by.
He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth (Betty); daughter, Ellen; 11 grandchildren; brothers Richard Tuttle, Larry Buchman, and Ross and Roy Waller. His father, Leo Tuttle passed away in a training accident during WWII in 1944, and his mother, Esther White passed away in 2009 in Mississippi. He and his brother, Richard were raised by their grandparents Cora and George White.
Ken was born in Columbus, OH, and raised in Raton and Las Vegas, NM. He graduated from Raton High School in 1960, earned his Bachelor of Arts from New Mexico Highlands University (NMHU) in 1969, and earned his Master of Arts from NMHU in 1970.
Ken met Betty 44 years ago when they were both teachers in Fort Defiance, AZ on the Navajo Reservation. They had two children; Keith (1979-2015) and Ellen and raised them in Fort Defiance until they both left for college. Ken and Betty moved to Gallup, NM after spending 28 years on the reservation. Ken was the band teacher at Window Rock High School, and he influenced and helped countless students develop and continue a passion for music, marching band, and pep band for athletic events. They marched every year in the Navajo Nation Parade, and many students he had went on to continue playing music well after high school.
After leaving Window Rock, he got his dream job at New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI) where his two passions, the military and music, were reunited. He taught for NMMI for 7 years and retired to Phoenix, AZ to be closer to his children and grandchildren.
He was in the Navy from 1961 to 1965 and rejoined the Navy Band from 1970 to 1974. He joined the New Mexico National Guard 44th Army Band where he served from 1988 to 2002. He always said that the hardest thing he ever did in the Navy and Army was put his mouthpiece in his trumpet and play. He played taps at Arlington National Cemetery for a year and also played at the induction ceremony of President George H. W. Bush during his time in the Navy, and he played countless performances with the 44th Army Band, including travelling to Chile.
One of his many passions besides the military was the New Mexico State Police where he attempted to pass their rigorous training and entered the academy on his 60th birthday. He was injured during his 11th week of training and had to drop out, but he gave it his all.
He participated in 14 Bataan Memorial Death marches on the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, the most recent being in 2017. He took up tennis when he started teaching at NMMI, and he continued to play until a month before his cancer diagnosis. While in Phoenix, he played for many bands including jazz and concert bands, and he performed often around the valley.
His love for his family and music was arguably surpassed by his love for the Dallas Cowboys and the NFL. He was an immediate friend to any stranger he came in contact with and loved people watching on his front porch. His flute and trumpet practice could be heard throughout the neighborhood. He will be missed by all who knew him.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to be made to the Make a Wish Foundation or St. Mary’s Food Bank.