Celebrating the life of

Kenneth Nels Larsen

Passed away on July 20, 2022

Kenneth Nels Larsen

Kenneth Nels Larsen

8/8/1925 – 7/20/2022

On July 20, 2022, Kenneth Nels Larsen (“Ken”), passed away peacefully at his home in Savannah, GA.  As always, his wife of 43 years, Nancy, was close by his side and Ken was just a few weeks shy of his 97th birthday.

Ken was born August 8, 1925, in Oak Park, Illinois, the son of Nels E. and Violet G. (Bacon) Larsen and was the older brother to Joy K. Calvert.  He joined the United States Navy, rising to the rank of officer, serving his country admirably in the Pacific during WW II.  Ken attended Wabash College and graduated from the University of Illinois with both Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees.

Professionally, Ken had a long and distinguished career as a senior executive in the antibiotic research and product management divisions of multiple brand-name and generic pharmaceutical development companies.  Ken was instrumental in his leadership of Parke-Davis/Warner-Lambert and, ultimately, the generic drug market.  He was actively involved in the development and passage of legislation opening the generic product competition while providing patent protection for these new drugs.  Ken also brought to bear his many talents to focus on the nonprofitable “orphan” drugs and was twice recognized by the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD); first for his “commitment and tireless devotion to people with orphan diseases” and again for his “leadership, compassion and commitment for orphan diseases”.  Among the many of his orphan drug passions were two; one specializing in treatments for the rare conditions of cystinosis, a genetic disorder affecting children, and the second for interstitial pneumonia.

Ken was also a servant to his community offering his numerous skills and talents to his church, Skidaway Island United Methodist Church in roles too numerous to note, board member of the Memorial Health Foundation, where he and Nancy established the Larsen Fellowship Fund, and board member of the Telfair Museum.  Additionally, he and Nancy worked together delivering Meals on Wheels for Senior Citizens, Inc. and supporting their many philanthropic endeavors including, but not limited to, America’s Second Harvest Food Bank, Nancy’s Place for Kids, the Ronald McDonald House, the Savannah Philharmonic and United Way of the Coastal Empire to name a few.  Before his semi-retirement on Skidaway Island in 1989, Ken served on the Planning Commission of Southfield, Michigan, and as a member and board chair of the Southfield-Lathrup School Board for 16 years where he met the love of his life, Nancy.   

Ken is survived by his wife, Nancy, known to him as “Truly”; his children (and spouses); Chris (Mary), Karin (Forrest Duddles), Eric (Nanci), Ann Griffin (Gail), and Jane Griffin; his grandchildren; Heikki, Lars (Emily), Kerstin (Jeremy) Yablonski, Andrew (Meyly) Brosseit, Brooke Persoon, and Jack Held.  He is also survived by his great-grandchildren; Zoe, Scout, Nash, Crew, and Lars, Jr., Taylor Yablonski, Zorian and Eldrian Persoon, Wyeth and Esten Brosseit; a niece and nephews.  Ken was preceded in death by his parents and his only sister. 

His closing thoughts, “It has been a great and rewarding life with many blessings and great friends.  My thanks to all who have enriched my life”.

A memorial service will be held at Skidaway Island United Methodist Church on August 24, 2022, at 11:00 AM.

In lieu of flowers, gifts can be made to America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Empire/Nancy’s Place for Kids - 2501 E. President St., Savannah, GA 31404 or Skidaway Island United Methodist Church - 54 Diamond Causeway, Savannah, GA 31411.



We love and miss you Mr. Larsen and will never forget you! Thank you for being such a special part of our lives!

- Lynn & Michael Todd, Savannah , Ga

A candle has been lit!

- Todd & Myers family, SAVANNAH, Georgia

A kind and gentle man. Enjoyed our discussions about our two great countries.

- Richard & Judy Jennings, Melbourne , Australia

A kind and gentle man. Enjoyed our discussions about our two great countries.

- Richard & Judy Jennings, Melbourne , Australia

I consider myself lucky to have known Mr Larsen during the last several years of his life. He was a true gentleman and always a pleasure to talk to. I will miss him.

- Richard Schulze Jr, Savannah, GA

Rest in peace, Ken. You were a true pioneer in not only the industry, but you were practicing inclusion and diversity decades before others. You have positively influenced so many of us.

- Margaret Hsiao, parsippany, NJ

My sincere condolences to Nancy and family. Ken was a wonderful mentor and friend. He maintained interest in pharma matters until almost the very end. He was always interested and curious. He was a gentleman. He was a pharma industry icon. I will miss him greatly. Rest In Peace.

- Wei-wei Chang, Boston, MA

Services under the direction of:

Fox & Weeks Funeral Directors, Hodgson Chapel