Cover photo for Kenneth Heath Yeomans's Obituary
1948 Kenneth 2023

Kenneth Heath Yeomans

June 20, 1948 — January 29, 2023

Pass Christian

Kenneth Heath Yeomans passed away on Sunday, January 29, 2023, in his home in Pass Christian, Mississippi, surrounded by friends and family, at 74, after a nine-year battle with gastroesophageal cancer.

Ken is survived by his loving and devoted wife, Catherine Chilton Carson; daughter Claire Yeomans; son Heath Yeomans, daughter in law Wendy, and granddaughter Sofie; Cathy’s children Brian Carson, Katelyn Carson Bourgeois, and husband Steven, and grandchildren Ashlyn and Trey; sister-in-law Susan Yeomans; and brother David Yeomans. He is preceded by his parents Gus and Florence Yeomans, stepmother Elizabeth Karst Yeomans, and brother Earl Yeomans.

Born June 20, 1948, in New Orleans, LA, Ken led a full life with enduring friendships, many adventures, and a deeply loving family. He was the youngest son of Gus Yeomans and Florence Cecelia Yeomans (nee Miller). Gus remarried to Elizabeth “Betty” Karst Yeomans and Ken and his brother Earl gained a brother, her son, David. Ken, unfortunately, did not have many memories of his mother, as she passed away when he was only four, but his father was a significant and long-lasting figure in his life. Always the storyteller, Ken loved to reminisce about his father’s days as a salesman and avid golfer who participated in many tournaments and was a much-beloved gentleman in the New Orleans social scene of the 1950s and 60s.

Ken’s childhood was spent mainly in New Orleans. He attended Audubon elementary and Fortier high school and always loved to regale his friends and family with tales of his misadventures on the streets of the city. These misadventures led to Gus and Betty deciding he needed a more structured environment for his senior year. He was sent to Saint Stanislaus boarding school in Bay St. Louis, where he met lifelong friends and compatriots in mischief Bud Anton and George Scherer. While parental figures considered the boys to be bad influences on each other, they remained thick as thieves and inseparable throughout their lives. The summers of Ken’s youth were spent at Betty’s family’s house on Scenic Drive in Pass Christian, MS. It was during these summers that Ken’s lifelong love affair with the Mississippi Gulf Coast began. Ken fondly shared memories of hot summer nights when he would lie in bed on the porch listening to the trucks shift gears as they traveled down the beach highway.  Additionally, how he would spend lazy summer days swimming and fishing; learning to sail; and meals of hot dogs handed through the porch screen door of his grandmother’s house. These memories inspired the goal of retiring to Pass Christian, which he accomplished in 2015.

After graduating from Saint Stanislaus, Ken briefly attended the University of Southwestern Louisiana in Lafayette, LA. After a short stint, Ken realized college wasn’t for him, and on May 22, 1967, he voluntarily enlisted in the United States Marines. Ken was shipped off to the United States Marine Recruiting Depot in San Diego, CA, and then sent to Camp Pendleton for basic training. He showed an affinity for electronics and shipped off to Vietnam as a flight engineer in charge of a supply plane doing supply drops into active combat zones. After his first tour of duty, Ken was scheduled to come home but decided to stay on active duty for a second tour so that a friend whose wife was about to have a baby could go home instead. Ken completed two tours of duty in Vietnam. Ken received numerous commendations and medals for his military service, including a Combat Action Ribbon after his plane was shot down by enemy fire.

After his military stint, Ken decided to put his natural charisma to use and began working as a furniture salesman in Hammond, Louisiana. During this time, another lifelong friendship was born when he met and worked with Wayne Sutton. The two were inseparable and shared many adventures. Ken and Wayne weathered many of life’s trials and tribulations together. And when Ken was diagnosed with cancer, it was Wayne’s wife, Michele, who would become an invaluable resource and his champion.

While working as a furniture salesman, Ken attended Southeastern Louisiana University and earned a degree in Education with a minor in Russian literature. This passion influenced the naming of his son, Nicholas Heath Yeomans, named for Czar Nicholas of Russia. After his undergraduate degree, Ken attended LSU Law with aspirations of entering the diplomatic corps, but after three semesters, he decided it wasn’t a good fit and moved on. In 1981 Ken and his family moved to Lafayette, LA, and in 1983 he began working in insurance at Sears. A year later, he opened the Yeomans Allstate agency, which would become a highly successful business he ran for 34 years and through which he achieved some of the highest awards given by the company.

While running a successful business, Ken also kept up with many hobbies. He was a high school football player and enjoyed following teams like the Saints and LSU for the rest of his life. Additionally, he immensely enjoyed fishing and eventually bought a fishing camp in Cocadrie, Louisiana, with his friends Bud and George. The years were full of weekend fishing getaways bringing his son Heath, and later his daughter Claire, down there to enjoy fishing, fish fries and friends. A social animal to his core, Ken was involved in the Lafayette Mardi Gras scene, rode in the Bonaparte parade every year, and was King for the Krewe of Victoria in 2002.

Probably one of Ken’s most influential hobbies was his love of sailing. Starting when he was young, during his summers in the Pass, Ken loved to be on the water, and this led to a life of boat ownership, racing, and involvement in the Pass Christian Yacht Club. He raced locally in the LPRC, the GYA, and in regattas sponsored by the yacht clubs on the coast. Ken completed the Gulfport to Pensacola race multiple times, and in 2012 achieved the longtime goal of completing the Regata al sol from Pensacola, FL, to Isla Majeures, Mexico. Whether his boat placed, didn’t finish, or, as he was fond of saying, “protected his place as last in the fleet,” Ken always enjoyed his adventures on boats. A love and passion he shared with his son Heath, who would often crew for him. Sailboat racing also brought his wife, Cathy, into his life. They met at the Knost Regatta and quickly bonded over their enthusiasm for and love of sailboat racing. Cathy was part of the crew that sailed the Regatta al sol with him and many others over the years. As part of his love of sailing, Ken became actively involved with the Pass Christian Yacht Club. He was on the Board of Directors for many years and eventually moved into the ranks of officer, including serving as Vice Commodore in 2012 and Commodore from 2013-2015. Ken was very involved in the Leukemia Cup for many years, helping to raise money and awareness of the disease that took his Mother. Additionally, his desire to encourage children’s sailing led him to start a youth sailing non-profit foundation: The Pass Christian Community Sailing Foundation where he served terms as President, Vice President, Secretary and Board Member.

In February 2014, Ken was diagnosed with Stage 4 Gastroesophageal Cancer and given six months to live. Never one to do things in a typical fashion, Ken decided to beat those odds. With the help and support of his wife Cathy, he underwent 18 months of traditional chemotherapy and then, when that avenue was exhausted, entered a clinical trial through the University of Chicago to see if the drug Keytruda was a viable option for the treatment of gastroesophageal cancer. For Ken, it was. He and Cathy traveled to Chicago every three weeks for years for his treatments and then when the FDA approved the drug, he was able to start receiving treatment locally. After nine years of infusions, every three weeks, the drugs failed. Ken had the will to survive that astounded professionals and a tolerance for indescribable pain; however, in the end, he developed Interstitial Lung Disease as a side effect of the cancer treatments, and then a second infection with Covid dealt the fatal blow.

Ken did not waste the years following his initial diagnosis. He and Cathy traveled extensively and lived fully, continuing his tradition of adventures along the way. One of their favorites was charter sailboat trips to the British Virgin Islands, and they went many encouraging friends to come along throughout the years, including his lifelong friends of Bud and Wayne and their spouses. Cathy and Ken also traveled internationally to many locations, which included: Italy, Greece, Spain, France, Malta, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, and other islands in the South Pacific. The pair also made smaller trips around the country to visit friends and family, like Ken’s daughter Claire in San Diego and friends in the Pacific Northwest. Ken and Cathy were out enjoying themselves up to the end with their last trip to the BVI’s this past October.

Ken’s and Cathy’s is a love story for the ages. Six months after they married, Cathy developed a rare heart condition that would eventually lead to the need for a heart transplant. It was in Ken’s desire to be there to care for Cathy that he found much of his strength to continue the fight against his disease. When they received the news that a transplant was inevitable, Ken vowed to stay alive long enough to get her safely through her medical crisis. He kept his promise, and Cathy had a successful transplant in 2021. They were each other’s rocks, true Norths, caretakers, confidants, and soulmates.

Ken was a character. His zeal for life was contagious. He would leave you with a full warm heart and a radiant smile, always the character, making you laugh with his antics. He was passionate about many things, family and friendships being at the foundation. Ken had an endless well of useful and useless knowledge and clever ideas, but his true joy was people. He showed his love in infinite ways, sharing a newly found musician, making a “most delicious adult beverage,” or hosting a party. He never met a stranger and made everyone feel like a friend.

His passing will leave a void in the world, an ache in the hearts of many, and a lifetime of rich memories full of his laughter, smiles, and friendship. To know Kenneth Heath Yeomans was to love him. He possessed a rare gift to make everyone feel special, loved, and cherished. He was loved immensely and will be greatly missed, but he will always live on in our hearts.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to:

Trinity Episcopal Church

125 Church Ave, Pass Christian, MS 39571

228-452-4563

Or to

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Donor Services, PO Box 22324, New York, NY 10087  

The funeral service will be Monday, February 6, 2023 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Pass Christian at 3:00 p.m.  Visitation will be at the church beginning at 2:00 p.m.  Interment will be in Live Oak Cemetery with honors by the US Marine Corps.

Bradford O'Keefe Funeral Home, 15th Street, Gulfport is honored to serve the Yeomans family.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Kenneth Heath Yeomans, please visit our flower store.

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Visitation

Monday, February 6, 2023

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Monday, February 6, 2023

Starts at 3:00 pm (Central time)

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Interment

Monday, February 6, 2023

Starts at 4:00 pm (Central time)

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