Kenneth F. Yontz
Yontz Valor Foundation, Founder
1944 – 2016
A Peek Inside the Life of My Dad – Ken Yontz
A personal letter from Terri Yontz Miller – Yontz Valor President
Ken Yontz, who I was lucky enough to call my Dad, was the founder of the Yontz Valor Foundation. He was an exceedingly successful businessman who reached pinnacles far beyond even what he had ever envisioned. The shaping of such a man started early in life, and is positive proof that though life most certainly will throw us “curveballs”, you can rise above if you stick true to your core values.
At 18 years old, Ken Yontz believed he had secured his spot on the road to success. A senior at St. Mary’s High School in Sandusky, Ohio and captain of the football team, Ken was fortunate enough to earn himself a full scholarship to Bowling Green University to study his passion; business. THE CURVEBALL. Earlier in the year, he learned that his girlfriend, my Mom, was pregnant and thus altered his life course dramatically. His decision to forego his scholarship, get married and raise a family was met with extreme disappointment from his parents and the entire small community where “Kenny” (as they referred to him) was viewed as a football icon with the expectation he would “make it big” in the game. He never forgot how this made him feel, and vowed he would prove them all wrong. With an empty bank account and a baby (me) on the way, he was determined to provide a loving and fulfilling life for us. He trusted then, so early in his adult life that all of the values modeled by his parents, would guide him as he embarked on this new path.
Ken had 3 kids by the age of 21 years old. He attended night school while working two jobs – the first of those jobs was harvesting in the stockyards (a job few would choose). He earned his undergraduate degree, followed by a Masters Degree. Despite what many viewed as “curveballs” my Dad never gave up. Eventually he became Chairman/CEO of a highly esteemed, successful company. Through ALL of this, there was one common denominator HIS VALUES. THEY WERE STRONG, NON-NEGOTIABLE AND HIS GUIDEPOSTS.
During my Dad’s career, he traveled the world, during which time he was drawn to visit Normandy Beach. He shared his accounts of that day with me and said, “I felt like I had been there before.” This visit was pivotal, as he was moved beyond words. From that day forward his benevolence was driven towards veterans. In 2014, he funded his own private foundation “Yontz Valor Foundation”, solely to use his good fortune to support our nation’s veterans and their families. VALUES
Early in 2016 the Yontz family tragically lost a child, my younger sister Jenny. Just two weeks after we buried our Jenny, my Dad was diagnosed with an insidious cancer. Our family then suffered the unimaginable, and unexpectedly lost my mother. Through this and within his own pain and grief, my Dad was a beacon of strength, love, and courage for our family. Being a mother myself, I marveled at his bravery. This prompted me into deep reflection and I realized how he was able to endure through the darkest of days. VALUES
Meer weeks after the sudden loss of my Mother, cancer would take my Dad. It was Thanksgiving Day. My Dad was my Best Friend. My Hero. My Guidepost. Watching him LIVE was something. But watching him die was paramount, and will live in me forever. To the very end, his values never weakened. They were at the core of his sustenance, guiding him through all life’s moments and inevitably shaping him into a remarkable man who was loved by so many.
The Valor Value Salute is grounded on Ken’s fundamental belief to stay true to your values, no matter life’s curveballs.
– Terri Yontz Miller
President – Yontz Valor Foundation
Nominations can be made by anyone, with restriction to self-nomination. Nominations will be accepted through the website, now through February 1, 2020.
Honorees will be chosen by: Yontz Valor President - Terri Yontz Miller, Hendrickson Foundation Executive Director - Danny Hendrickson and Warrior Hockey Program leaders.
Chosen nominations will be bound for the selected recipients and presented at the Hendrickson Foundation National Hockey Festival Reception on February 22, 2020.
Valor Salute honorees will receive a keepsake and a generous gift.
In 1500 words or less, please explain in detail how the nominee demonstrates the criteria and core values defined above and why s/he should be considered for the Valor Salute.
- Valor Salutes are by nomination ONLY and must be received by February 10, 2020 to be considered. Nominations will be reviewed by Warrior Hockey leaders, and the honorees chosen by HF Executive Director, Danny Hendrickson and YVF President, Terri Yontz Miller.
- Cite specific examples, situations, behaviors, quotes where this individual’s values have shined.
- Describe how others have benefitted from this individuals work ethic, kindness, giving nature, leadership and/or hope in adversity.
- Describe how this individuals values align with the values of Ken Yontz, described above.
- Optional: include any photo/article/document that may also shed light on this individuals strong values.