Kenneth (Ken) lost his enduring battle with cancer and succumbed at Stanford Medical Center on March 29, 2012. He was 63.

He was born to Elwood and Janice Schmutz on Feb. 13, 1949, in Great Falls, Mont. When his parents moved to Napa in 1957, Ken attended Napa schools and became a Boy Scout, reaching the rank of Eagle Scout. After he graduated from Napa High School, he attended Sacramento State College where he obtained a degree in music education.

Upon graduating, Ken was hired to teach band at Ridgeview Junior High for several years. He met and married Mary Hiestand, also a music teacher in the Napa schools. He also taught high school band in other cities in the state including Durham, Tehachapi, Atascadero, and Paso Robles. In retirement, Ken was offered a position to teach band at Saint Rose Catholic Elementary School to children from fourth through eighth grades in Paso Robles. He was still teaching music there until his death.

Ken loved teaching students and was an inspiration in sharing music with them. He loved life and was loved by so many students, parents, and friends.

He is survived by his son, Kenny of Sunnyvale, Calif.; his mother, Janice (Jan) of Napa; sister, Janel Schmutz of Vancouver, Wash.; brother Stan, his wife Susan, and their children Leeann, Mario and Karissa of Napa; second cousins, Noel Schmutz of Napa and Natalie Stotz of Palo Alto; and ex-wife Mary Schmutz of Atascadero, Calif. Ken was preceded in death by his father, Elwood “Woody” in 2010.

A memorial service has been scheduled for 2 p.m., Saturday, April 21, 2012, at Paso Robles High School Gymnasium, Paso Robles, Calif.

Donations in memory of Ken may be made to Napa Valley Education Foundation’s annual “Sustain the Music Campaign,” 2425 Jefferson St., Napa, CA 94558, or online at A donation may also be made to a charity of your choice.

(1) comment


I remember Ken way back at Ridgeview always a nice guy. RIP.

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