By Rusty Bradshaw
A long-time fixture in the real estate industry in the West Valley was remembered as a key player in Sun City’s development following the community’s 1960 opening.
Ken Meade, a successful Realtor and dedicated civic leader, died of respiratory failure, chronic kidney disease and conjunctive heart failure May 5. He was 91.
In addition to his work as a salesman, Mr. Meade was also remembered as a civic leader, patriot and devoted family man.
“He was very committed to his family,” Steve Meade, his son, said. “He loved our mother immensely.”
The family often had a routine during the children’s younger years, according to the younger Mr. Meade.
“We would play volleyball or badminton,” he said. “We had that routine especially on Sundays. I remember a lot of family dinners.”
Born in Brooklyn, New York Nov. 25, 1925, the elder Mr. Meade, the oldest of three children, enjoyed baseball and music, often playing drums in local bands. He left high school and enlisted in the U.S. Navy after the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, serving until the end of the war in 1945 when he returned to New York to complete his education.
“He was proud to serve his country,” Steve said.
He met Alice Steinman in 1951 and married her one year later. The couple had three children — daughters Janet and Patricia joined Steve. His family devotion showed again when, in 1958, he moved the family to Arizona hoping to improve Steve’s severe eczema. The move did the trick, and was fortunate for Ken in other ways.
A course on public speaking sparked a long career in sales, first as the sales director for Arizona Land Company and later as the sales manager of Legend City, a large amusement park that was constructed in Phoenix in the 1960s. Ken also sold printing for almost 10 years.
He joined the Del Webb Corporation in 1974 and became one of its leading sales associates.
He founded Ken Meade Realty in October 1983 and built it to what was the largest real estate company in the Sun Cities at the time of its acquisition by Coldwell Banker in 2014. For more than three decades, his company played a major role in shaping the way the Sun Cities matured and evolved as retirement communities.
“Del Webb set up a great model, but at that time, since it was difficult at the start to anticipate all the changes over the years, there were a lot of decisions to be made,” Steve said. “Dad felt good about those things he got involved in. He enjoyed that.”
Serving on the boards of numerous charitable and civic organizations, Ken used his influence to help the Sun City area successfully tackle a wide variety of important issues.
“I had quite a few dealings with Ken when I was president of PORA,” Sun City resident Larry Woods stated in an email. “He was always a big supporter of PORA and of Sun City West.”
Mr. Woods added that each time he and Mr. Meade talked he wanted to know how he could help get more interest in PORA because he believed a strong PORA was critical to the future of Sun City West.
Ken worked at the real estate company until 1999, when his wife suffered a debilitating stroke. His family devotion showed again when he decided to retire and spend his time caring for her in her remaining eight years before her Jan. 1, 2007 death.
“He was not resentful (of caring for her,” Steve said. “He threw himself into it fully.”
Ken’s last years were spent reading and supporting numerous social causes.
“His civic work in the community was done later in life, after we were grown,” Steve said. “We did not miss out on time with him.”
Steve worked with his father at the real estate company. One of Steve’s sisters also helped with financial audits for the company and his other sister did some information technology work for it as well.
“Dad was from the generation that taught him to try to be a good provider,” Steve said. “He always gave us a safety net to learn and grow, and always supported us in all our endeavors.”