Rotarian Ken Espenak
Updated: Jun 4
Ken Espenak is a long time Rotary Club of Ridgewood AM member who is built of sturdy Norwegian stock. Ken’s family emigrated from Norway and settled on Staten Island, NY where Ken grew up. As a testament to his roots, Ken has visited Oslo as well as Volda in Norway. He also swam in the Arctic Ocean over 200 Km north of the Arctic Circle. More on those trips and adventures later.
After graduating from Muhlenberg College in 1970, Ken was faced with a low draft number for the Vietnam War. Although the war was beginning to wind down, young men like Ken were still being drafted well into 1970. So Ken made the decision to enlist in the Air Force where he served honorably.
Years later by happenstance and kismet, he met Patty his future wife at a cousin’s wedding which had to be postponed due death of his father. Although a sad time, Ken was happy to have met Patty and they dated and married in 1981.
The newlyweds decided after much study to settle in Ridgewood. This served Patty who was commuting into New York City working at Salomon Brothers and Ken who was working in White Plains. By this time, Ken had established his professional photography business providing photographic services to the advertising industry. At that time most photo shoots were product placements and other graphic arts associated with magazine advertising , catalogs and collateral material.
As digital photography began to replace film in the 1990s, Ken’s business began to erode as a result of smaller margins due to automation of photography finishing and editing in the digital age. At this critical point, Ken decided to close his business wind and make a career change.
As you recall, Ken is from strong Nordic stock and decided to make a brave career change in mid life which many of us would find daunting. But to Ken who has climbed mountains and swam in waters of the Arctic, this career change was very achievable. Through Patty’s support and contacts on WallStreet, Ken found a perfect match for his demeanor, integrity, and work ethic.
In 2003, he opened the first office for Edward Jones in Ridgewood as an investment advisor. With his strong business background and discipline from years in the Air Force, Ken has built a successful advisory business with many clients. The early days were lean, but Ken had the perseverance to make it a success where he has been at Edward Jones on Ridgewood Avenue for over 18 years.
This year, Ken is transitioning his business to a new Edward Jones associate which will allow him more time to visit his daughters in Milburn, NJ and Denver, Colorado. He has a new grandson in Colorado so he and Patty look forward to extended visits out west. In addition, as travel restrictions due to COVID 19 are lifted he and Patty will resume travel to their favorite destinations like Italy, Spain and of course return to his roots in Norway. It is a pleasure to have Ken in our club and we look forward to him starting his own Polar Bear Club with future dips in the Arctic Ocean.