'Grandpa Ken' enjoys volunteering at Adelaide Elementary

Jan 16 2011 - 10:57pm

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ERIN HOOLEY/Standard-Examiner
Ken Drost reads with first-grader Hailey Burbach at Adelaide Elementary School in Bountiful recently. Drost lost his wife in a car accident years ago and still stays busy volunteering with different classes at the school.
Erin Hooley/Standard-Examiner
Ken Drost reads with first-grade students at Adelaide Elementary School in Bountiful on Tuesday. He volunteers twice a week at the school as a tutor.
ERIN HOOLEY/Standard-Examiner
Ken Drost reads with first-grader Hailey Burbach at Adelaide Elementary School in Bountiful recently. Drost lost his wife in a car accident years ago and still stays busy volunteering with different classes at the school.
Erin Hooley/Standard-Examiner
Ken Drost reads with first-grade students at Adelaide Elementary School in Bountiful on Tuesday. He volunteers twice a week at the school as a tutor.

BOUNTIFUL -- Ken Drost loves his nickname at Adelaide Elementary School.

The 80-year-old volunteer is known by the students as "Grandpa Ken," and he said he wouldn't want it any other way.

"Oh, I think it's great," Drost said. "The kids here are wonderful, and I really enjoy spending time with them and seeing them progress. I like the fact that they think of me as Grandpa Ken."

Drost volunteers at the school twice a week, where he tutors first-, second- and third-graders in reading and math.

Second-grade teacher Tracy Leavitt said her students are always excited when it's their turn to read with him.

"They love him," she said. "They always look forward to their turn reading with him, and they're disappointed if they have to wait. He's also a veteran, and they love to hear stories about his naval career. They really respect him."

Drost, who spent his career as a salesman for U.S. Steel, began volunteering three years ago after recovering from an automobile accident that took the life of his wife, Lois, and left him critically injured.

"We were returning from our winter home in Tucson, Ariz., when the accident happened," he said. "They flew me to an ICU in Flagstaff, where I spent three weeks, and then they flew me to Davis Hospital, where I spent another five months learning how to walk again. That was an interesting experience."

Drost met his wife on a blind date and said it was love at first sight.

"A friend of mine set us up. We had three children together and four grandchildren," Drost said. "I have a little granddaughter who was adopted from an orphanage in China. She's in the second grade now."

Today, Drost walks with a cane but suffers no pain from the accident. He lives at Barton Creek Assisted Living Center, where a van takes him to and from the elementary school.

"A lot of the kids will say to me, 'Why do you walk so slow, Grandpa? Why do you use a cane?' So I tell them I was in a little accident," Drost said. "They are really smart kids and are very interested in learning about everything."

Drost said he hopes to volunteer at the school for many years to come.

"I'll stay here as long as I can," he said. "It's very rewarding to me. The staff here is great. I couldn't be more impressed with the school and the students. It's something I love very much."

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